Taking care of your child’s teeth and gums is important. Healthy mouth and teeth are an important part of a child’s overall wellness. Speech, the ability to concentrate and learn, nutrition and self-esteem are directly tied to the condition of the mouth. Untreated tooth decay in children and teens can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. Tooth decay is one of the most common diseases affecting children and teens. It is more common than hay fever or asthma.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
- The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (11%).
There is good news…tooth decay is preventable! Parents and caregivers should reinforce home care habits that include brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth daily, limiting starchy and sugary foods and drinks, and going to the dentist regularly. These positive habits can go a long way in preventing tooth decay! Adding a dental professional as a resource to your medical support system can provide ongoing peace of mind for your entire family.
Ask your medical or dental provider about other preventive interventions including:
- fluoride varnish, a high concentration of fluoride that is painted directly on teeth;
- fluoridated tap water, available through public water systems; and
- dental sealants, a protective seal that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
For more information on taking care of the oral health of your child or teen,