Feature

Health scare of the week: Cavity-wracked toddlers

For the first time in 40 years, dentists are seeing a spike in the number of preschoolers needing serious dental work.

For the first time in 40 years, dentists are seeing a spike in the number of preschoolers needing serious dental work, The New York Times reports. Some toddlers have so many teeth riddled with cavities that treating them requires general anesthesia. “We have had a huge increase in kids going to the operating room,” says American Dental Association spokesman Jonathan Shenkin. Frequent snacking and sipping on sugary drinks are possible causes, as is drinking bottled water instead of tap water, which usually contains beneficial fluoride. Many parents don’t realize that their children should see a dentist by age 1, and they often fail to brush their kids’ teeth twice a day, especially when it causes them to scream. “Some parents say, ‘I don’t want my little darling to be traumatized,’” says Jed Best, a pediatric dentist in New York City. But better to cry over “a soft toothbrush,” he says, “than when I have to drill a cavity.”

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