Crystal Lake, IL Dentist
77 E. Crystal Lake Avenue
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

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 - For starters, cavities in young children are not that uncommon.  By age 5, about 60 percent of U.S. children will have experienced tooth decay.   A recent report found that the rate of cavities in children 2 to 5 years old increased almost 17 percent.   
The report goes on to explain that tooth decay, particularly if left untreated, can result in infection, chewing difficulty and even malnutrition. If the decay is bad enough, abscesses may develop, affecting the health of the child’s permanent teeth.

Because of the health problems that pediatric cavities can quickly cause, age 2 is no longer considered too early to bring your child to the dentist; many dentists recommend coming when the first teeth appear or by the child’s first birthday, whichever occurs first.

Historically the thinking had been to schedule a child’s first dental visit by the preschool years. But a toddler with a mouthful of cavities is a problem.  The worst case is when you’ve got them in on the first trip and you have to do something really big and it takes a long time to work through.  

Dentists are often asked "But why treat cavities in kids?  These aren’t permanent teeth, right?"  Bottom line is that tooth decay is disease.  Baby front teeth stick around until around age 6.  Baby molars are there even longer, until around 10.  So a child who has cavities at 2 could face years of pain and associated issues, such as trouble eating and concentrating in school.

Seeing kids — and, more important, parents — early is the perfect time to talk about habits that can lead to decay, like frequent juice drinking, sugary snacks and putting babies to bed with a bottle.

We often see children for their first dental cleaning at age 3, and that’s early enough for many — although we’re happy to see patients at age 1.  We call those our ‘happy visits’  to discuss good nutrition and tooth-cleaning techniques and to acclimate a child.  Everybody should brush at least twice a day, starting fluoride toothpaste when a child is able to rinse and spit on his own.

At the end of the day our job is to get the kids comfortable in the dental office, so they’ll come in every six months for the rest of their life.