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Surge of 3-yr-olds in Japan city with cavities blamed on stay-at-home lifestyles

This photo shows cavity prevention leaflets the Obu Municipal Government started to distribute. (Mainichi)

OBU, Aichi -- The number of 3-year-old children with cavities in this central Japan city has nearly doubled in just over a year, prompting authorities to distribute leaflets urging parents to have such toddlers receive health checkups as a prevention measure.

    After examining 336 3-year-olds who underwent health checkups before September 2020, the Obu Municipal Government in Aichi Prefecture found that 7.8% of them had cavities, a jump from 4.2% in fiscal 2019. The city believes that their stay-at-home lifestyles amid the coronavirus pandemic were behind the surge.

    Among the 336 children, 44.9% responded that they customarily ate sweets -- an increase from 42.4% in fiscal 2019. Meanwhile, 64.7% of children had periodic dental checkups, 2.5 percentage points down from fiscal 2019.

    The city's health promotion department analyzed that residents were reluctant to visit dentists amid the coronavirus pandemic and that they had more opportunities to eat sweets as they spend longer periods at home than before. The department has made leaflets warning of the risks of consuming too many sweets and drinks, while promoting brushing teeth and regular dental checkups.

    A department official said, "It's important to reexamine diets. Dentists are taking infection prevention measures, so we would like residents not to be scared of getting dental checks."

    (Japanese original by Toru Kuroo, Handa Resident Bureau)

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