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Juices, sweets blamed for rise in childrens’ cavities

Date Posted: 2005-06-10

Very young Okinawa children are setting another negative Japanese record.

Local youngsters are outpacing all of Japan in numbers of dental cavities in three-year-olds. Dental officials say 49.3% of Okinawan kids have cavities, the worst in the country. The nationwide average is 31.4% having cavities, and then in only one or two teeth.

Dentists studying the data say Okinawa’s parents are much slower in getting their children to dentists, giving decay and infections a head start. More than 50% of Okinawa three-year-olds had cavities in 2003, but dentists don’t believe there’s a real downward trend, warning that parents must become more attentive. The Japan Dental Association blames parents giving juice to their kids in milk bottles, often before even the first birthday. They say the increased amounts of sweets consumed by the small children are breaking down the enamels, and are encouraging immediate, and frequent dental examinations.

Spoiled Okinawa children are overprotected by parents, say officials. Dentists say parents must change the life patterns in raising their children, focusing on good dental hygiene, including teaching young children to brush their teeth well.

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