We Live in a Country Where Two-Year-Olds are Getting Root CanalsS

Sick of hearing about sugar and all the ways it's wrecking our bodies? Too bad: Today there's yet another scary report about the hazards of sweetness. Today's New York Times goes inside an oral surgery operating room where a two-and-a-half year old is getting a root canal and some fillings, because 11 of his 20 baby teeth had cavities.

Lately, we have heard that kids are eating sugar like it's going out of style. A study shows your brain doesn't know the difference between ice cream and crack. And some folks want to regulate sugar like we do booze.

But another huge problem with sugar — and, perhaps, parents reluctant to brush young kids' teeth — is that early tooth decay often leads to surgery, the Times reports:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted an increase, the first in 40 years, in the number of preschoolers with cavities in a study five years ago. But dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more. The level of decay, they added, is so severe that they often recommend using general anesthesia because young children are unlikely to sit through such extensive procedures while they are awake.

So: Our teeth were mess until fluoride was added to the water, and somehow things were fine for 40 years, and now we're a mess again. As you can imagine, using general anesthesia on kids has risks and side effects, "including vomiting and nausea, and, in very rare cases, brain damage or death." Do we blame the parents? Do we blame our quick-paced lives in which fast-food and sweet snacks fit so easily? Do we blame the uptick in bottled water consumption — since Poland Spring has no fluoride? Do we blame advertising, for making kids crave said snacks? Or do we blame a country where, in most locations, it is way easier to find a can of Pepsi than it is to find fresh-squeezed juice or an apple? Part of the answer is in the seriously depressing last lines of this piece:

Janine Costantini, the ambulatory practice director at Children's Hospital Colorado, said the staff treated a 3-year-old who was making his second visit to the operating room for dental work. The boy arrived with a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Preschoolers in Surgery for a Mouthful of Cavities [New York Times]

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