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Tooth Decay in Children: Epidemic Proportions

Tooth decay has been identified as a prevalent pediatric disease in the US.

One leading newspaper that has addressed the issue in its publications is The USA Today.

An article on pediatric tooth decay was written by Michell Healy for the March 3, 2014 issue.

In the article, Healy interviews Warren Brill, who is the president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s president, Warren Brill.

The article starts by asserting that in spite of being preventable, tooth decay is the most common pediatric disease in the US.

This situation has led to education campaigns being launched to raise awareness on the issue and encourage parents and caregivers to take up preventative measures.

There is an increase in the prevalence of tooth decay incidents, especially in younger children from low socio-economic households.

This increase can be attributed to:

  • Children being put to sleep with their milk bottles in their mouths.
  • Children spending too much time feeding from a bottle.

Lack of regular cleaning of teeth

The article notes that cavities can be deadly since they are caused by bacteria that can spread from the tooth into the nerve.

In extreme cases, the bacteria from the cavities can spread through the bloodstream to the child’s brain leading to death.

It is recommended that children should have their first dental exam by the time they are 1 year.

However, 40% of parents only take their children for the first dental exam at the age of 2 years.

This gap is attributed to a lack of information on the significance of early dental care to children.

The article recommends the use of a tiny smear of toothpaste to brush children’s teeth.

This smear will provide the fluoride needed to make baby teeth strong.

An adult should supervise brushing by children under 8yrs of age.

The article addresses concerns for older children.

It notes that high energy drinks have an adverse effect on teeth as they contain excessive amounts of sugar.

The article also acknowledges that the lack of an adequate number of dental healthcare providers exacerbates the situation.

This low distribution of provides is blamed on federal and state governments since they do not provide adequate funds for dental care programs.

The article concludes by providing some tips on dental care for children.

For children below 2 years, it recommends cleaning the baby’s mouth and gums using a soft cloth and once the teeth appear, brushing using a small toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste.

Children are also required to avoid sugary liquids or carbohydrates before bed. Instead they should only take water.

For children between 2 and 5 years, the article recommends brushing teeth at least twice a day.

Children are encouraged to chew sugar-free gum as it activates saliva production, which cleans the mouth.

The article by Healy (2014) is correct in declaring tooth decay in children an epidemic.

Federal health reports cite dental cariers as the most common chronic disease of childhood (Blevins, 2011).

The statistics provided by the article are corroborated by Blevins (2011) who confirms that 42% US children aged between 2 and 11 years have a history of tooth decay in their baby teeth.

The adverse effects of tooth decay identified by the article are right.

Chi, Masterson, Carle, Mancl and Coldwell (2014) agree that tooth decay can lead to difficulties in eating pain, systemic health problems, and even death.

The article suggests that cavities can be deadly since the bacteria in the mouth can spread into the nerve and then the bloodstream.

Blevins (2014) observes that the cariogenic bacteria represent a transmissible infectious disease.

The link between the socio-economic status of the parents and tooth decay is supported by research.

Chi, et al. (2014) reveal that low socioeconomic status is the strongest determinants of tooth decay in children.

The article identifies carbonated drinks as a special concern for older children.

This concern is repeated by Blevins (2011) who notes that the sports drinks popular among children contain excessive amounts of sugars that contribute to tooth decay.

The dental care recommendations offered are based on facts.

Blevins (2011) supports the assertion that children should have their first dental exam no later than when they are 1 year old.

He also agrees with the recommended dental visits every six months.

The suggestion that children should chew gum is based on the understanding that saliva plays a protective function in oral health.

It acts as an acid buffering agent and flushes food particles from the teeth and gum line (Blevins, 2011).

Flossing helps remove food particles between touching teeth (Blevins, 2011).

Lay media articles are an important source of health information for the general public.

However, most lay media publications do not provide factual information to their readers as they try to create sensational news.

The article by Michell Healy is an exception since it’s content is factual and has relevance to current pediatric health care.

Readers of this lay media article can use the information provided to safeguard the dental health of their children.


Blevins, Y. (2011). Oral Health Care For Hospitalized Children. Pediatric Nursing, 37(5), 229-235.

Chi, D., Masterson, E., Carle, A., Mancl, L., & Coldwell, S. (2014). Socioeconomic Status, Food Security, and Dental Caries in US Children: Mediation Analyses of Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2008. American Journal of Public Health, 104(5), 860-864.

Healy, M. (2014). Young Kid’s Tooth Decay hits Epidemic proportions. USA Today. Web.

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ApeGrade. "Tooth Decay in Children: Epidemic Proportions." April 13, 2022. https://apegrade.com/tooth-decay-in-children-epidemic-proportions/.


ApeGrade. 2022. "Tooth Decay in Children: Epidemic Proportions." April 13, 2022. https://apegrade.com/tooth-decay-in-children-epidemic-proportions/.


ApeGrade. (2022) 'Tooth Decay in Children: Epidemic Proportions'. 13 April.

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