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Prevention, not fluoride, key to preventing tooth decay among children: report

Last Updated Apr 8, 2016 at 3:33 pm MDT

The University of Calgary School of Public Policy released its list of recommendations to address and increasing prevalent and serious disease among young children known as early childhood carries (ECC).

Previously, the disease was called baby bottle tooth decay.

The paper takes no position on the fluoridation of drinking water, only saying that while it could help, it won’t work without prevention and education.

Co-author Jennifer Zwicker says, while fluoridation can be useful, it wouldn’t be needed if oral health prevention was effectively practiced, pointing to a high rate of ECC in fluoridated Edmonton as well.

“It’s not preventing tooth decay. We’re seeing tooth decay on the rise in children in both Calgary and Edmonton,” she said.

The paper calls for increased parental education on feeding and dental hygiene for infants, and for empowerment of health care professionals (doctors and nurses) to integrate prevention practices in their early visits with parents.

“We’re recommending that at baby visits and during vaccination schedules, and any kind of interface with public health nurses or pediatricians, just explaining to parents, you need to be cleaning their gums, you need to be brushing their teeth, just so you’re not ending up with children going to the emergency room needing surgery for dental pain.”

Zwicker says ECC is the most chronic infectious disease among children under five on the continent, and adds, it’s entirely preventable with proper prevention.