Visit to Dentist within Baby’s First Year Key to Preventing Childhood Caries
Regular and early visits by infants and toddlers to a dentist can help to identify and address the risk for tooth decay that can lead to early childhood caries, says the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).
“Tooth decay is preventable,” says Dr. Peter Doig, President of CDA. “Infants should visit the dentist by age one, and regularly thereafter. These early visits can identify and address signs of tooth decay, promote good oral health habits, and are an investment in lifelong health.”
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) recently investigated the extent of hospital-based day surgery for early childhood caries in Canada. Among the findings, CIHI reported early childhood caries as the leading cause of day surgeries for children ages one to five. The public cost of surgery for these caries is $22 million per year for hospitalization alone.
CDA recommends this early assessment of infants by a dentist to determine special risk, appropriate interventions and the required frequency of future visits, within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. In addition, Parents and caregivers can play an important role in preventing tooth decay by simple daily mouth care and good feeding habits, which are discussed during the baby’s dental visit.
CDA recognizes the challenges related to ensuring all Canadians have access to oral health care. While the vast majority of Canadians enjoy excellent access to oral health care, ensuring access to care for those who are in that minority remains a priority for the profession.
Developing paths to access is possible through partnerships among the dental profession, other health professions, the federal and provincial governments, provincial and municipal dental public health programs and non-government community agencies. With this in mind, CDA continues to explore ways in which organizations can work collaboratively to address the issue of early childhood caries in Canada.
CDA also believes that fluoridated municipal drinking water remains one of the most effective and scientifically proven methods of reducing tooth decay and early childhood caries.
“Every Canadian should have access to optimal oral health,” says Dr. Doig. “A collaborative approach among those who have the capacity to contribute to addressing the challenge of access to dental care will ensure good oral and general health for all Canadians.”
The Canadian Dental Association is the national voice for dentistry, dedicated to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession and to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health.