According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all U.S. children ages 2-9 suffer from some form of untreated tooth decay. While poor diet and lack of oral hygiene play a role in the findings, the study concludes that cavities are often disease related. The problem is especially acute in children from low-income families where dental care may be ignored due to financial reasons.
“Preventative dental care is key to maintaining healthy teeth, mouth and gums, and starting early with children can make a big difference in their future years,” said Dr. Robert N. Pickron, founder of Pickron Orthodontic Care and a practicing orthodontist for 40 years. “Children should receive an orthodontic examination by age 7 – the time when their permanent front teeth are forming.”
Among the problems that respond to early treatment are crossbites, underbites, crowding, spacing, thumb sucking habits and impacted teeth, he said.
“A child’s first visit to the dentist should be when baby teeth form, when the child is about one year old,” Pickron said. ”Baby teeth, in place from about age 3 to 12, help the child chew, smile and speak. These early teeth are very important in the development of the face and jaws and are responsible for guiding and developing space for the permanent teeth. If lost prematurely, the permanent teeth are likely to come in crooked or not at all, causing serious problems and requiring expensive procedures to correct.”