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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Baby teeth, big cavities. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Tooth decay in young children is on the increase. But since baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, what’s the big deal? We asked University of Washington pediatric dentist Rebecca Slayton.
REBECCA SLAYTON (University of Washington School of Denstistry):
Cavities are painful and they can cause an infection in the tooth that turns into an abscess. And kids that have chronic dental pain don’t eat or sleep as well, and there are millions of days of school lost per year. So those are all pretty serious consequences.
Slayton adds that permanent teeth can become overcrowded if decayed baby teeth come out prematurely. The first line of defense is for parents to take care of their own dental health, since they can pass harmful bacteria on to their babies. She also recommends that parents help their children brush until at least age six, and cut out sugary drinks and snacks. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.