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  • Dr. David Alfaro

Tooth Decay in Kootenay Kids

One of the reasons I went into dentistry is that I don't really have to give people any sad news like "real doctors" do. But one thing that really gets me down is having to tell parents that their child has to go to the hospital to get their tooth decay treated under general anaesthesia. It happens too often.

Tooth decay in kids is a big problem in the Kootenays.

The Kootenay Lake Hospital has a multiple month waitlist for kids needing treatment for teeth decay in the operating room, usually under a general anaesthetic. This is with the local hospital dentist going once or twice a week for a full day!

A study published in 2013 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information looked at day surgery rates to treat cavities in children 5 years old and younger across Canada and the results for our area were very disappointing.

19.6 out of every 1000 children 5 and under in the Kootenay Boundary Health Region required a day surgery under general anaesthesia (2010-2012 data) to treat tooth decay.

This is 42% higher than the provincial average and over 2 times higher than in the East Kootenays. These are kids 5 and under; just little ones! Across Canada, treatment of tooth decay makes up almost a third of all day surgeries for children 5 and under. It is a big deal.

So what can I do to help prevent this from happening to my child?

1st dental visit by year 1:

The first thing is to go to the dentist preventatively, not when you see a dark spot, or your child is in pain. As soon as there are teeth in your child's mouth you should go and talk with a dentist about proper dental home care and healthy dietary habits.

A visit to the dentist a couple of times a year, however, is not enough; you need to be an active participant in your child's oral health care plan.


In other areas, we might have to say, "feed your kids healthy snacks". But who are we kidding? We live in the Koots! Most kids aren't eating junk. They are organic, sugar-free, eating from the garden, outdoor playing healthy kids! Yet.....we have bad tooth decay here. Diet is important, but it is not enough in the fight against tooth decay in children. I see plenty of little ones who's parents feed them healthy food yet have aggressive cavities.


You have to brush their teeth for them! Two times a day. Send them to school with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use a plaque indicator from time to time to see what spots are being missed regularly. I know they fuss, but get it done.


Use a toothpaste that says "fights cavities". If it doesn't, it is not protecting your child's teeth.

Do not fall for the natural trap like many parents have. I get it. You want to protect your kids from the evil, pineal gland calcifying, IQ dropping, mind controlling rat poison that is put into the big pharma toothpaste products. But.....fluoride works the best and it is safe.

Tooth decay in kids is too aggressive to treat with a natural toothpaste, and most of the kids I have had to send to the hospital do come from fluoride-free households. Does it stop 100% of cavities? Of course not....

But dentistry is expensive!

There are various programs that can help you access dental care for your kids . Check these out to see if you qualify:

Tooth decay in kids is a troubling scenario but the good thing is that it is preventable!

Do it for the children!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Dave


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