In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, you’ll get valuable information in this blog about childhood oral health that every parent should know. And, although these statistics are concerning, the good news is that there are many effective ways to completely prevent oral health problems. That’s why you’ll also get tips for preventing these issues so you can minimize the amount of work your child needs from a dentist and help them have a healthy smile for life. Learn more below!
SURPRISING STATISTICS ABOUT CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH
- Cavities in children are 5 times more common than asthma, 7 times more common than hay fever, and also more common than childhood diabetes and obesity.
- Countless studies have shown fluoride to be one of the most effective ways to prevent cavities, but around 100 million Americans aren’t getting effective levels of fluoride in their drinking water.
- The CDC states that an estimated 42% of children ages 2-11 have untreated cavities. Small cavities can be treated with simple fillings, but if they go untreated for too long and become bigger, they often require more extensive procedures such as dental crowns and root canals.
- Over 80% of the cavities children get are on the chewing surfaces of their back teeth. These surfaces have tiny, microscopic pits and grooves that can’t be adequately cleaned – even with good brushing habits.
- The Center For Health and Healthcare In Schools found that approximately 51 school hours are lost each year due to dental-related issues.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT ORAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN YOUR CHILD?
With regular care from a children’s dentist and a few good habits at home, cavities are 100% preventable! Here are some ways to strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent decay:
- Schedule regular checkups to make sure that any cavities or other problems are detected and treated when they’re as small as possible. These visits are also a great way to get specific tips for brushing and flossing your child’s teeth, as well as age-appropriate oral hygiene products to use.
- Talk with your dentist about the fluoridated water in your area to make sure it’s adequate. If not, they can prescribe a fluoride supplement so the teeth that haven’t come in yet develop as strong as possible. In addition, a dentist can apply topical fluoride treatments to strengthen the teeth that have already come in to prevent tooth decay.
- Also, ask about sealants. These thin, durable coatings on the back teeth prevent the pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces from collecting cavity-causing bacteria. The first set of sealants is recommended around age 6 when the first permanent molars come in. The second set is usually done around age 12 when the second molars come in. Sealants prevent 80% of childhood cavities.
- Limit both the amount of sugar and frequency with which your child consumes it. Sipping or snacking on sweet things like juice, soda, dried fruit or candy throughout the day dramatically increases the risk of cavities. Remember the phrase, “Sip all day, get decay.”
Childhood oral health problems are incredibly common and impact children in many ways. But, with the power of prevention, you can avoid these issues entirely and give both you and your child something to smile about!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Stephanie Vera is a family dentist and a graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry who loves working with patients of all ages. In addition to providing outstanding care for children, she also makes it a priority to educate both kids and their parents about the oral health issues they face and how to prevent them. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, she can be contacted via her website.