Cavities is the most common preventable chronic childhood disease
The picture shown is what happens when you put a child to bed with a bottle.
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
Here are some things you can do to ensure good oral health for your child:
- Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- For children younger than age 6, watch them brush their teeth. Make sure they use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always spit it out rather than swallow it.
- For children younger than age 2, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless your doctor or dentist tells you to.
- Learn more about fluoride toothpaste and other sources of fluoride at Brush Up on Healthy Teeth.
- As soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth, talk to your pediatrician, family doctor, nurse, or dentist about fluoride varnish.
- If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist, family doctor, or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements. These are available in many forms, like drops, tablets, or lozenges.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants.
- Have your child visit a dentist for a first checkup by age 1, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Find a dentist if your child needs one. Use the Insure Kids Now Dentist Locator
- Dental cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases in children and teens; dental sealants are an effective way to prevent these cavities. Cavities are caused by a breakdown of the tooth enamel by acids produced by bacteria located in a film that collects on teeth. Left untreated, cavities can cause pain, infection, and problems eating, speaking, and learning. Although cavities are largely preventable, 21% percent of children aged 6-11 years had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth in 2011-2012.
Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities
- Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and painless way to prevent most of the cavities children get in the permanent back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur. Sealants are thin coatings that when painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) can protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years. Although the number of children in the United States with sealants has increased over time, low-income children are 20% less likely to get sealants and twice more likely to have untreated cavities than higher income children.
School-Based Sealant Programs: Effective but Underused
- School-based dental sealant programs are an extremely effective but underused way to reach children at highest risk for decay. CDC targets high-risk children through school-based dental sealant programs in schools where at least 50% of students participate in free and reduced-cost meal programs. Applying sealants in schools for about 7 million low-income children who don’t have them could save up to $300 million in dental treatment costs. School-based sealant programs can be cost-saving within two years of placing sealants and delivering sealants to children at high risk for cavities can be cost-saving to state Medicaid programs.
- The mobile dentist school bases programs can see your child if they have a signed permission slip when they come to your school. If you would like your child seen, make sure you sing the form and turn it. There are so many kids that are not being seen, all they need is a parent or guardian to the form.
What Else Can be Done?
- In addition to dental sealants, community water fluoridation is one of the most practical, cost-effective, equitable and safe measures communities can take to prevent cavities and improve their oral health. Fluoride helps to rebuild and strengthen the tooth’s surface, which in turn prevents cavities from forming. By preventing cavities, community water fluoridation saves money, both for families and the health care system.
We have well water where I lived growing up. If you have well water, it is important to get a fluoride rinse or paste to help prevent cavities. It does make a difference. For my daughter we had well water where we lived also. I used MI Paste. It comes in different flavors. I rubbed it on with a q-tip. They have a version with and without fluoride. This is my favorite product because even if you miss some plaque the teeth are still strengthened, but there are several on the marked that are good. Colgate makes prevident a fluoride paste you can brush on that I like also.
The thing you need to know about using fluoride is you need to brush the teeth to get the plaque off before you use the Fluoride. Otherwise the plaque gets the fluoride instead of your teeth.
Drinking water from the tap is another way to get the benefits of Fluoride. We started to see an increase in cavities and could not figure out way. More people are drinking bottled water, some bottled water does not contain Fluoride and some bottled waters are not ph neutral.
If you are drinking water that is more acidic is just the same as drinking soda or juice.
If you have dry mouth drinking more water helps, when your mouth is dry your saliva flow is reduced, which in turn causes more cavities. Swishing with water can help act as saliva and rinse away plaque and food that can cause cavities.
Being educated and aware of the causes of cavities if the first step to helping reduce the # of children that have them.
Develop a dental hygiene routine of toothbrushing 2 minutes 2x a day. That will last a lifetime.