One of the biggest health problems facing children in the U.S. is tooth decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry estimates over half of all U.S. children will be affected by cavities before they reach the age of five. This makes it one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the country.
Cavities can cause pain and infections. If left untreated, they can also lead to issues with speaking, eating, learning, and playing. Children’s dental health awareness is very important, which is why February is named National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Children’s Dental Health Challenges
The following are just a few of the surprising statistics about children’s dental health:
- Twenty-five percent of children and adolescents from low-income families between the ages of five and 19 have an untreated cavity compared to 11% of children and adolescents from higher-income families.
- Almost 20% of children from the ages of 5-11 have at least one decayed tooth that hasn’t been treated.
- Almost 13% of adolescents between the ages of 12-19 have an untreated decayed tooth.
How to Promote Children’s Dental Health
Tooth decay can be prevented. Here are a few tips for preventing tooth decay in children and adolescents:
- Applying dental sealants to the back teeth can help reduce cavities in permanent molars by 81 percent for at least two years after they’ve been placed.
- Children should brush at least twice a day for two minutes each session.
- Children should visit the dentist twice a year. A dentist can spot cavities that are beginning to form as well as take care of any cavities that are fully formed.
- Fluoride can help prevent 33% of decay in baby teeth, which means children who brush every day using fluoride toothpaste are less likely to experience cavities.
- Spending money on preventative care will save money in the long run. Every dollar you spend on preventative dental care can help save between $8 and $50 in dental treatment.