Tooth decay up in East Tennessee children

Tooth decay up in East Tennessee children

Posted:
Dentists at Children's Hospital said they have seen more and more children coming in for dental emergencies. Dentists at Children's Hospital said they have seen more and more children coming in for dental emergencies.
Sarah Nichols is continuing the cycle of good oral health she learned, not only with Ethan, but with his one-and-a-half year old brother Eli. Sarah Nichols is continuing the cycle of good oral health she learned, not only with Ethan, but with his one-and-a-half year old brother Eli.
Western Heights Dental teaches kids how to care for their teeth. Western Heights Dental teaches kids how to care for their teeth.
"We see a lot of children that never get their teeth brushed, and if they do, not correctly, a lot of them," said Dr. Richard Myers. "We see a lot of children that never get their teeth brushed, and if they do, not correctly, a lot of them," said Dr. Richard Myers.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A local dentist says tooth decay among East Tennessee children is at epidemic levels.

And it's not just teeth their parents have to worry about. These kids are at risk for other serious health problems.

Kids with dental trouble are in pain and at risk for vascular problems and diabetes. They even often have trouble in school and with their self-esteem.

The problem is so bad, dozens of children a week have to go to the emergency room for treatment.

Ethan Nichols will be four years old on Christmas Day.

If he gets candy in his stocking, he knows he must use his brand new toothbrush right away.

His mom, Sarah, who came to Western Heights Dental as a child, is continuing the cycle of good oral health she learned there, not only with Ethan, but with his one-and-a-half year old brother Eli.

"I just make sure that they brush in the morning and brush at night and drink lots of water," said Sarah Nichols.

Nichols is doing her best to avoid the devastating impact poor hygiene can have on a child's teeth.

A lack of dental hygiene can lead to tiny teeth with rot and abscesses. Kids with these problems end up with pulled teeth and a mouth full of teeth with silver caps.

Dr. Richard Myers not only sees children at his local practice, he joins other dentists who work a few days a week at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, treating heartbreaking dental cases.

"It's really tough to say this, but sometimes we feel we're pounding our heads against a wall," Dr. Myers said. "We see a lot of children that never get their teeth brushed, and if they do, not correctly, a lot of them."

He points to so-called "Mountain Dew mouth", which he sees a lot of.

And while soft drinks do have a lot of sugar, so do many fruit juices.

In fact, the USDA says grape juice has 36 grams of total sugar, compared to 28 grams in a regular Pepsi.

"Everything in moderation. It's just moderation. If you have a soda with your meal, okay. That's fine. But the big problem with this is that you've got to keep your teeth clean," said Dr. Myers.

Western Heights Dental says a difference might best be made if it can bring educational programs to schools.

There is also a link between dental health and wealth.

For families who cannot afford dental care for their children, Tenncare provides free dental coverage for qualified children up to the age of 21.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.