Cavities a big problem with kids

August 1, 2012

Half of kids between ages 12 and 15 have it. The problem has become so bad that many kids need surgery to have their numerous cavities filled.

How can you stop the problem with your kids?

Five-year-old Audrey Baright brushes her teeth twice a day and flosses regularly. So her parents were shocked at her last dental appointment

"(They said) hey, your child has eight cavities," Herbert Baright, Audrey's dad, told Ivanhoe.

Because there were so many, Audrey had to undergo general anesthesia to have them filled. Duke pediatric dentist Martha Ann Keels says it's a scenario that's becoming much more common.

"Every new patient is coming in with a mouth full of cavities," Martha Ann Keels, DDS, Ph.D., Pediatric dentist at Duke University Medical Center told Ivanhoe.

Using anesthesia while filling them could cause vomiting, nausea, and in rare cases, brain trauma or death. The cost can range from $2000 to $5000.

"The cost is expensive," Dr. Keels explained.

Dr. Keels says eating at bedtime when there's decreased saliva, drinking bottled water that doesn't contain fluoride and consuming sugary drinks are all cavity culprits. Perhaps the worst offenders are sugary, gummy candies that stick between the teeth. If your child doesn't floss often enough, the candy stays and the teeth rot.

"Little kids aren't going, oh look, I got food stuck in my teeth," Keels said.

So what can you do? Skip juice and stick to water and milk, see a dentist by age one, brush twice a day – and floss daily. You can still enjoy a treat or two…just stick to those that melt.

"I'm a huge proponent of M&Ms or Hershey kisses," Dr. Keels added.

Audrey now takes extra good care of her teeth for one big reason…

"Because you don't want cavities," Audrey concluded.

Dr. Keels also says watch out for sour candies because they contain a lot of acid, which can lead to cavity formation. Gummy vitamins, raisins and cereal bars all contain sticky sugar even liquid medicines can be a big contributor to cavities. They typically contain 50 percent sugar.

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