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Toddlers with cavities: Bad parenting?

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Brush early and brush often

The number of toddlers and preschoolers that are coming into dental offices with cavities is on the rise in recent years. Is this the result of bad parenting, or is something else to blame? Read on and decide for yourself.

A case in Washington state highlights a recent increase in dental work for the very young. A 2-year-old boy named Devon Koester recently went under anesthesia for x-rays and subsequent dental work after they discovered 11 of his 20 baby teeth had cavities. His mother admitted that she had more on her mind than brushing his baby teeth when they first came in and didn't begin brushing them until he was 18 months old when they noticed they were no longer pearly white.

The disturbing trend

Dentists around the country are reporting more and more little ones are coming into their office with tooth decay so extensive that they often require general anesthesia for the repairs. There is no specific income or education level in the families that can be attributed to this startling trend. Many dentists claim that lax parenting is often to blame, coupled with an increase in sugary drinks and snacks, particularly around bedtime.

Start 'em young

Many mothers we spoke with have been brushing their child's baby teeth since the first one erupted, and some even beforehand, as many dental professionals recommend. "We wiped his gums a little when he was small," said Jessica from Canada. "Once teeth arrived we added it to the routine at bedtime. Now at 2, we brush them for him, and then he brushes after."

Parker, mother of one, did the same. "Cricket was play brushing with me as part of a bedtime routine since before she got teeth," she reported.

Born that way

Some children are simply more susceptible to tooth decay despite a strict brushing regimen. Brigetta, mom of three, had this experience. "My son Jordan had horrible teeth," she shared. "On his first visit at age 3 he had 12 cavities. Dominic, on the other hand, has had only 2 cavities his whole life. I brushed both boys' teeth twice a day. The dentist said some kids just have bad teeth."

Tayla, mom of two, told us a similar story. "Jonah's oral health was problematic from the get go," she explained. "When his first lateral incisor came in, there was a brown spot. Jonah needed to have dental surgery to fill the existing cavity and to put sealant on the remaining teeth."

Oral hygiene is so important

Starting young may help your baby grow used to the brush and the activity, and many moms report that their toddlers and children love teeth-brushing time. Slacking off in this department really isn't an option if you want to give your child the best start to their oral health possible.

"My little sister who is 7 now (I raised her until she was 5) has had 9 cavities and had one tooth pulled," Jessica, mother of one, told us. "After I moved out was when her good teeth habits went out the window -- her mom didn't follow through with the routines. I'm determined had she kept up with it, Kyra would have little to no issues with her teeth."

Get your toddler to brush their teeth

More on dental health and oral hygiene

Teaching kids about dental health
7 kid-friendly dental care products
Preparing for the first visiti to the dentist

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