“While cavities are on the decline in the general population, they are a fact of life for increasing numbers of young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They affect 10 percent of 2-year-olds and over half of 5-year-olds, causing everything from minor toothaches to missed school days to complications that require major surgery,” a recent article in the Boston Globe reports.
The message comes just in time for back-to-school season. More than 156 million school hours are missed due to dental disease each year. In fact, dental disease is the most common chronic childhood disease. It is five times more common than asthma in children all across the nation. Dental decay can affect some of life’s most basic activities, including speaking and eating, and can hinder kids’ ability to learn and advance in school. In adults, dental disease is associated with other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The article calls for parents to “manage cavity prevention as they would battle any chronic illness,” and that is sound advice. Measures such as dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and early childhood screenings can almost entirely prevent dental disease. These are simple, cost-effective interventions that go a long way. Oral health is overall health, and it is essential that kids and adults alike have access to quality oral health care here in the Commonwealth.