(CNN) – Most children age 5 and younger do not see a dentist and not surprisingly, tooth decay is on the rise in this age group. To help reverse this trend, new recommendations now suggest primary care doctors apply fluoride treatments to the teeth of all children six months old to age 5.
Doctors should also prescribe oral fluoride supplementation to patients who are not getting fluoride in their water.
The thinking is that children are more likely to see a doctor early in life than a dentist. These new guidelines were put out by the U.S. Preventive Services task force.
Tooth decay is 4 times more common than childhood asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever, according to the report. About 1 in 5 children with cavities don’t get treatment. This is not only painful, but can lead to loss of teeth, slower weight gain, speech issues and problems with self-esteem.
Dental experts recommend that little ones start seeing a dentist no later than their first birthday, that they brush at least twice a day, and get a check-up every 6 months.