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The Next Baby Boom

August 12th, 2011

According to U.S. census figures, the next fastest growing segment of the U.S. population is the group under 18.  By 2020 this segment is expected to top 80 million, surpassing the numbers of the baby boomers that started in 1946.  This shift in population may bring some interesting challenges to dentistry.
In the United States, 28% of preschoolers have untreated dental decay and 14% of school age children likewise have untreated decay.  This is an astonishing figure considering the knowledge we have today in preventing decay.  Added to this is the fact that only 5000 of the roughly 183,000 dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry.  This can make access to specialty care for exceptional cases even more difficult.
How do we contend with the oncoming boom?  Well simply, we need to increase the emphasis on prevention.  The proliferation of things like sports drinks and other products high in sugars, acids or both have put our children at risk.  In a recent article in a popular parent’s magazine, a supposed expert in sports physiology advised that these sports drinks are better than water for kids.  His reasoning?  The kids are getting salt to replace electrolytes lost while perspiring and kids are likely to drink more if it tastes good.  How about just putting some salt on a snack like carrots before exercise and teaching our kids that plain water for hydration and  apples for energy from natural sugar are a SMARTER choice.
Other suggestions for healthier options include potato chips or pretzels for additional salt and citrus fruits for instant energy.  And consider not having kids engage in heavy exercise in extreme heat.  They’re not professional athletes and putting their health at risk for sports at a young age is probably not appropriate.risk for sports at a young age is probably not appropriate.

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