Toddlers and Dental Appointments: The Sooner, the Better

Lost Tooth KidA recent Toronto survey found that less than 1% of urban children in Canada have received dental care by the recommended age of one-year-old. Fewer than 2% have seen a dentist by the time they reach two-years-old. What’s worse, the survey data showed that kids in the highest risk categories from the start were also the least likely to receive early preventive dental care. This is all according to Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, who led the research.

Pediatric Dental Research

A sampling of 2,505 children around the age of four were surveyed over a period of two years – between 2011 and 2013.  Approximately 39% said they had never been to a dentist at all. These children were all a part of TARGet Kids! a unique applied research collaboration between doctors and scientists from St. Michael’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children. The program is designed to follow children from birth with the goal of preventing common health issues and understanding the impact of certain disease on future health. Dr. Maguire’s study was published today in the journal Pediatrics and found that never having gone to a dentist was associated with lower family income, prolonged bottle usage, and a higher daily intake of sweetened beverages (such as juice and soda). Every one cup increase in the amount of sweetened drinks consumed on a daily basis increased the odds of no dental health care by 20%.

Dental Appointments for Children Should be a Given

Of children who had visited a dentist before age 4, 24% had at least one bout with tooth decay. Dr. Maguire noted that babies exposed to prolonged bottle usage (especially at night, while they slept) had a higher risk for cavities because the carbohydrates in the beverages promoted growth of the germs which cause decay. Cavities can cause severe discomfort in children and contribute to difficulty eating, further propagating poor nutrition habits. Additionally, children with poor dental health exhibit more behavioral problems. Says Dr. Maguire, “It’s one thing for primary health care providers to be recommending early preventive dental care but for many families this is unrealistic. Publically funded universal early preventive dental care just makes sense.” Though Canada has universal healthcare, dental care is not included in these services.

Visit your Park Ridge Dentists

To learn more about preventive dentistry, or to request an appointment with Drs. Thanasi and Maria Loukascontact Park Ridge Dental at 847.696.1919. We welcome patients living in Chicago, Park Ridge, and the surrounding areas.

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