Bay Area Kids: The Worst Teeth in the Country?

September 20, 2011 at 4:00 am 2 comments

Photo: Healthy Smiles Children's Dental Program

Alameda County kids may not have the worst teeth in the country, but unfortunately, they come close. According to a recent KTVU, Channel 2 News broadcast, California ranks third nationwide when it comes to kids with bad teeth, and within California, Alameda County is worst.

Dr. Jared Fine, Dental Health Administrator for the Alameda County Public Health Department, says this Bay Area health problem targeting children is of epidemic proportions.

According to KTVU, Alameda County’s six-year study of 3,200 children in 22 schools reveals that 70 percent had tooth decay by third grade, while 30 percent had untreated cavities, and 10 percent had a toothache from a dental infection. And these numbers are double those of an identical, statewide survey.

The doctors at Alameda and Pleasanton Pediatric Dentistry are well aware of the problem, informing parents about oral hygiene at the earliest stages of their childrens’ development. Alameda Pediatric Dentistry’s Dr. Sharine Thenard, who was highlighted in the broadcast, says many two-year-olds coming into the office already show signs of rapid decay.

Photo: Alameda County Public Health Department

The good news is, this and other dental problems may easily be prevented. Here are some of the causes and solutions we may implement on a daily basis:

  • Even bottle feeding babies may develop fungal infections like thrush. While there may not be many teeth to brush, wiping their mouths with a cotton gauze after feeding will help clean away any remaining milk.
  • Dental disease is infectious and transmissible. Clean pacifiers with water rather than with your mouth, and refrain from chewing food before giving it to baby.
  • Offer tap water. It’s got fluoride in it – good for those little teeth!
  • Recognize milestones. Congratulations! Your baby has reached his or her first year. At this age, babies should move on to a sippy cup, as milk from bottles tends to remain in the teeth longer. As you brush brand new teeth, Dr. Thenard recommends simply using water or non-fluoride toothpaste. Once children hit their third year, they may begin brushing with toothpaste that contains fluoride!
  • Reduce the amount of sugary foods kids consume, such as soda and candy. Many of the same foods that cause obesity also contribute to tooth decay.
  • Bring your baby in to the dentist as early as six months old. According to Dr. Thenard, baby teeth matter in your child’s long-term development!

One of the biggest causes of tooth decay is lack of access to dental care. That’s why Alameda Pediatric Dentistry is making a trip to Jamaica, offering free dental care to underprivileged kids for one week. Look out for an article about the trip in an upcoming blog!

Also, in response to the Bay Area’s dental health epidemic, the Alameda County Public Health Department is unveiling a new Strategic Plan addressing the problem. Our calls to the health department reveal that the plan, slated for September release, is still forthcoming. Look out for news about the plan here: http://www.acphd.org

Entry filed under: News, Parent Tips.

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