Number of Toddlers Sedated for Dental Procedures Increasing

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 44 percent of 5-year-olds have cavities. This study showed the first increase in 40 years in the number of preschoolers with cavities. Dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers with 6 to 10 cavities or more, and this trend is across all income levels. The worst part is that the level of decay is so severe that many of these children require surgery.

The dental surgery center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, has three operating rooms, and in 2011 alone, 2,525 children were treated there using general anesthesia. The average age of patients is 4, and most have decay in six to eight teeth, according to dentist-anesthesiologist Dr. Megann Smiley. “The most severe cases have 12 or 16, which is seen several times a week,” she adds. (Read this article here.)

One reason increasing numbers of kids need surgery is because parents may wrongly believe that baby teeth don’t require the same level of care as adult teeth. Unfortunately, a cavity that doesn’t receive the proper attention and treatment will continue to get worse, sometimes turning into an infection that requires surgery. And for young children, sedation may be the only way to allow the necessary dental procedures to be completed.

One mistake parents make is not brushing their child’s teeth because the child does not like it. To prevent decay in baby teeth, parents need to start brushing regularly as soon as the first tooth pops out. Prior to teeth, it is a good idea to wipe the gums with a soft washcloth following a feeding.

These dental operations are preventable. By following good dental hygiene habits and visiting the dentist regularly, your child can have a healthy smile for years to come.