22 Aug 2011

Pediatricians advise parents of young children that they should manage cavity prevention as they would battle any chronic illness

By Neena Santija
....While cavities are on the decline in the general population, they are a fact of life for increasing numbers of young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They affect 10 percent of 2-year-olds and over half of 5-year-olds, causing everything from minor toothaches to missed school days to complications that require major surgery. But dentists say few people realize that cavities are symptoms of dental caries, the most common chronic disease in children today, according to the CDC.
Caries is caused by a transmissible bacteria that produces acids in the mouth when we eat anything with carbohydrates, including sugary or starchy foods. Those acids dissolve the teeth, and without good oral health practices, they can lead to tooth decay - cavities. But cavities are preventable if the underlying caries is managed.
“Because it’s chronic, and because it’s a condition that is caused by bacteria, you can actually, as a patient, stop the disease process if you know what to do,’’ said Dr. Man Wai Ng, a pediatric dentist at Children’s Hospital Boston. “And you can actually prevent it from starting.’’

Ali and Jeannette Wicks-Lim weren’t aware of that when they brought their toddler, Mason, to the dentist for the first time after noticing signs of decay on one of his upper teeth. “I think it had almost started to look chipped,’’ Ali Wicks-Lim said.

They were shocked to find he had eight cavities. They never gave him candy or soda, and they brushed his teeth twice a day....

Mason may not have been eating sugary snacks, but he was eating crackers throughout the day. Because he wasn’t brushing his teeth after each snack, the constant presence of carbohydrates in his mouth fueled the bacteria and acid production.

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