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Surge in tooth decay among young children in eastern Ontario raises concerns


An uptick in tooth decay among young children has become a cause for concern for eastern Ontario dentists.

Recent data from Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health show a 60 per cent increase in tooth decay among senior kindergarten children since 2019, with 40 per cent of kids affected.

KFL&A public health provides school dental screening to approximately 6,000 elementary school students in the Kingston region.

Pediatric dentist Dr. Gordon Roberts from Woodroffe Pediatric Dentistry in Nepean says this issue has persisted for generations and is not solely attributed to sugary treats.

"This is a multifactorial issue. So it's not one thing," said Roberts.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, disrupting routines for both children and parents, leading to altered eating habits and fewer dental visits. Additionally, the high cost of living has deterred people from seeking dental care and accessing healthy food.

Seven-year-old Nora says she doesn't mind her routine dental visits.

"It's really important so you don't get cavities." said Nora.

Nora's mom, Katharine Lepora, emphasizes the importance of maintaining her daughter's oral hygiene.

"I started taking both my kids to the dentist before they were two-years-old," she said.

"Nora is getting some coating put on her molars because we want to make sure that she doesn't get cavities."

While Nora boasts top-notch teeth, experts emphasize the importance of proactive dental care for children, including regular brushing, flossing, limiting sugary consumption and making consistent visits to the dentist.

Dr. Roberts urges parents to seek preventive care at a young age.

"Come more frequently, come at a very young age before we see problems. Then we can hopefully help you avoid them."

This month, the federal government unveiled the details of its new Canadian Dental Care Plan, building on the pre-existing Canada Dental Benefit. The program -- currently projected to cost $13 billion over the next five years -- will be slowly expanded over the next year to include all qualifying seniors, children under the age of 18 and people with disabilities.

The new insurance program will be accessible for up to nine million low-income uninsured Canadians of all ages once completely up and running in 2025, the government estimates.

With files from CTV News Toronto Top Stories

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