The U.S. Surgeon General has called dental disease a “silent epidemic” affecting millions of children nationwide, particularly minority and low-income populations. Dental caries, the disease process that leads to tooth decay, is the most prevalent childhood disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 25 percent of U.S. children aged two to five have dental caries and more than half
of those aged 12 to 15. Those numbers double and sometimes triple for children in Hispanic and Native American communities.
Fortunately, tooth decay and gum disease are almost entirely preventable. Here are some effective, simple tips parents and caregivers can use to improve the oral health of children:
Pregnant women should visit the dentist and practice good oral hygiene. A mom’s oral health has a direct impact on her baby’s oral health.
Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.
Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear.
To prevent baby bottle decay, never put your child to bed with a bottle of juice or milk.
Schedule the first dental visit for your child by age 1.
Check to see if your water is fluoridated. If not, talk to your dentist or pediatrician about fluoride supplements.
Help your toddler brush twice daily with a small drop of fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once daily.
Encourage your child to eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of water and avoid sugary snacks and juice.
Talk to your dentist about fluoride varnish and dental sealants to prevent the incidence of tooth decay.
Talk to your teenager about not smoking or using any other tobacco product.
Cambia Health Foundation invests in transformative projects that improve the oral health of underserved children, particularly those initiatives that advance care coordination, enhance quality and reduce costs. To learn more about our work, please visit us here
To find out more about the importance of good oral health and the direct link between oral health and your child’s overall health and well-being, please visit these resources:
American Academy of Pediatrics - HealthyChildren.org
American Dental Association – MouthHealthy
Center for Disease Control – Children’s Oral Health
Source: Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities. A Statement from the American Dental Association
. December 2013.