Even above asthma and hay fever, the single most common chronic disease in childhood is tooth decay. This problem has swept British Columbian children aged four to six, regardless of neighbourhood or family income. In fact, among children in the most affluential neighbourhoods, as many as one in three has shown evidence of poor dental health.
How do we know this for sure? Since 2006, periodical studies have been conducted by the provincial government on children of kindergarten age. The study spanned close to 500 neighbourhoods and each time, more than 35,000 kids were assessed. The University of B.C. researchers were surprised at the result, and not in a good way. Two sets of data examined found that almost 50% of children from the lowest income neighbourhoods were currently experiencing some form of tooth decay. This decay is characterized by fractures in the teeth or filling, stripped enamel, and other general signs of decay that eventually leads to dental caries (cavities).
What was even more surprising was that the rate of tooth decay was not much better for children in richer B.C. neighbourhoods. The data showed that poor dental health affected close to 30% of children. The Fraser Health region seems to have been the most affected by tooth decay in children, but other regions have only seen minor improvements since the studies were conducted. A subsequent 2009-2010 study in the same time period as the last showed a 2.2% decrease in rates of dental decay across B.C.
The problem persists across B.C., and it is unfortunate that the Kitsilano area ranks among these troubling areas. However, all is not lost. The government and health professionals are being pushed by the study to help promote new and targeted approaches to dental health for children. This includes using the public school system, educating children on the dangers of sugar for teeth, and offering/educating children and parents on healthier food options. Of course, this bows in comparison to the importance of getting a regular checkup by your dentist.
In all of B.C., under the BC Healthy Kids Program, among others, there are subsidy options that exist for low income families. This particular program can cover up to $1,400 of basic dental care every two years for those who are eligible.
Knowing what you’re entitled to as a Kitsilano resident and how you can take advantage for your family is extremely important. If you believe that your child may be suffering from tooth decay, or any other form of dental issue for that matter, make an appointment with Dr. Alex Rosenczweig in the Kitsilano area today. The sooner the better!