Preschoolers Are Getting More Cavities Than Ever -- What Are We Doing Wrong?

toddler toothbrushOh parents, for the first time in 40 years, we're seeing

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says you can start cleaning your newborn's gums with a washcloth or a soft infant toothbrush. That's right, "tooth-brushing" (or the gummy equivalent) should start right after birth. And once that first tooth shows up, we need to start brushing our kids' mouths twice every day. Seriously. If they don't like it, tough. Just remember -- easier to deal with a wrestling toddler now than to send your preschooler to a dental surgeon later.

And that first visit to the dentist? That should happen by your baby's first birthday, but preferably by the time that first tooth arrives (between 6 and 12 months). I think I remember reading that when my son was a baby, but I'm also pretty sure I was not that diligent about the gum-brushing.

So what about that fluoride bit? That's something else pediatric dentists don't think we parents are taking seriously. But I know a few parents -- including a dentist -- who think fluoride is actually counter-productive and even toxic. And yet, the only cavities I have I got during the brief time I lived in a state that does not put fluoride in its water. So -- who knows?

And then there are the families who are just genetically disposed to tooth decay and gum disease. All the brushing and dentists and healthy eating in the world is only going to do so much. Their kids have a choice between a lot of cavities and a colossal amount of cavities.

But for the rest of us, it sounds like we need to step up our game. Gah, my son hasn't been to the dentist in over a year! I'm making that appointment ASAP. Now repeat with me: Brush after every meal!

Do your kids have cavities? How early did you start brushing?

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