Prevention of Dental Caries (Tooth Decay): Should we be Content With Our Progress?

John E. Nathan*

Prevention of Dental Caries (Tooth Decay): Should we be Content With Our Progress?

Some of us may remember the prevalence of dental caries from the 1950’s, 1960’s and during my dental career infancy, the 1970’s. Caries free individuals, child or adult, may well have qualified as an endangered species. Early television advertising toothpastes portrayed children gleefully boasting only “having two cavities this check-up.”

Many parents and children in 2015, not only carry the expectation of no decay, they demand it, and become outraged if not greatly disappointed when their current hygiene efforts fall short of their intended mark. For these fortunate Americans, oral health awareness has reached an all-time high.

Many states funding for general assistance either becomes exhausted early in the fiscal year, or inadequate to sustain reimbursement for continued dentist and institutional participation. Closings of dental teaching institutions, which served as essential sources of low-cost yet quality care providers has further complicated the plight of dentally-disadvantaged families.

Annual conservative estimates report, in the Chicago area alone, thousands of infants and children under three years of age unnecessarily experience Early Childhood Caries (aliases: Bottle Mouth Syndrome, Nursing mouth decay). Despite how much we know about how to stop this preventable phenomenon, it appears efforts to do so have been largely unsuccessful in getting the message out to those who clearly need it the most. For many of these pre-cooperative infants and children, safe management can only occur in a hospital and surgical center environment.

Pediatr Neonatal Nurs Open J. 2015; 2(2): e8-e10. doi: 10.17140/PNNOJ-2-e005