Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children in the United States.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
Pediatric dentists with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics want children to visit the dentist sooner. The recommended age for the first dental visit now is 12 months.
“It used to be 3 (years), but by the time we saw them at that age, we were seeing children with lots of decay already,” says Robin Onikul, pediatric dentist at Children’s Mercy, noting 40 percent of children have tooth decay by kindergarten.
Onikul recommends check-ups at least twice a year; use of fluoride; regular brushing and flossing, as soon as the first tooth appears; and eating right, including avoiding foods and drinks with a lot of sugar.