Children’s Oral Health
Cavities (also known as caries or tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.
- About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.1
- 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.1
- Children aged 5 to 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities, compared with children from higher-income households (11%).1
The good news is that cavities are preventable. Fluoride varnish can prevent about one-third (33%) of cavities in the primary (baby) teeth.2 Children living in communities with fluoridated tap water have fewer cavities than children whose water is not fluoridated.3 Similarly, children who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste will have fewer cavities.4
Dental sealants can also prevent cavities for many years. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth prevent 80% of cavities.5
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
For children younger than 2, consult first with your doctor or dentist regarding the use of fluoride toothpaste.
If your child is younger than 6, watch them brush.
Make sure they use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallow.Help your child brush until they have good brushing skills.
Good Dental Health Is Important for Pregnant Women
When you’re pregnant, you may be more prone to gum disease and cavities, which can affect your baby’s health. Follow these 3 steps to protect your teeth:
If you have nausea, rinse your mouth with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water after you get sick. This helps wash stomach acid away and keep your tooth enamel safe.