More work needed toward cavity prevention in children
According to a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, more preschoolers are getting their cavities treated than they have in the past 25 years. This is the first time since 2007 that there has been a decrease in the number of children going without treatment.
Though the study's findings are optimistic, only two year's worth of data comprise the results. Still, the report underscores hope that dental care is becoming more accessible. As more children's cavities are being treated, dental professionals hope to see an increase in cavity prevention.
Proactive defense against childhood tooth decay is a challenging feat for many parents. A new Delta Dental survey found that, of 13,000 parents, nearly half claimed more difficulty in prompting their children to brush their teeth than to clean their rooms.
41 percent of the parents surveyed also found difficulty in encouraging their children to floss. Roughly 1/3 of the respondents confessed their children don't brush more than once a day, and nearly two-thirds said their children floss no more than once a week.
Counter to what the CDC numbers say for young children's untreated cavities, the data was not so encouraging for older children, said The New York Times. The prevalence of cavities seemed to hold strong for children past preschool.
There were cavities in the baby teeth of more than half of 6- to 8-year-olds, while 50 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds had permanent teeth with cavities. A staggering 67 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds' teeth showed decay.
As to why dental decay remains high for adolescents, Dr. Man Wai Ng, chief dentist at Boston Children's Hospital, suggested that teenagers often fall asleep before brushing. She further pointed to a diet inclusive of sugary beverages.
And as dentists are filling more cavities in the very young, doctors emphasize the importance of behavioral changes as a tool against tooth decay.