CITY, State (February 6, 2013) – Although cavities are nearly 100 percent preventable, more than one in four American caregivers reported that their children had a cavity filled in the past year. This was among the findings of a new survey1 of nearly 1,000 caregivers released today by Delta Dental in conjunction with National Children’s Dental Health Month. Among children who had a cavity in the past year, 53 percent had two or more cavities.
The 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey shows that not only are Americans unaware they can pass cavity-causing bacteria to children, but they also need to brush up on some critical children’s dental health habits, including basics such as brushing and flossing.
“Parents and caregivers need to teach good oral health habits to children at a young age to help prevent cavities,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental’s vice president for dental science and policy. “Baby teeth are very important. They help children chew and speak properly and hold space for permanent teeth. If a child has healthy baby teeth, chances are he or she will have healthy adult teeth.”
These are some of the oral health habits that fall short of what’s recommended by dental professionals:
- Survey shows: Seventy-five percent of caregivers say they share utensils such as a spoon, fork, or glass with a child.
- Delta Dental recommends: Parents and caregivers should eliminate saliva-transferring behaviors – such as sharing utensils and toothbrushes and cleaning a pacifier with their mouths – all activities which can pass harmful bacterial to a child.
- Survey shows: Forty-nine percent of Americans with a child four years or younger report that the child sometimes takes a nap or goes to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk or juice.
- Delta Dental recommends: Parents and caregivers should not put a child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, sweetened water or soft drinks, which can lead to baby bottle tooth decay. Instead, caregivers should fill the bottle with water.
- Survey shows: For children who have visited the dentist, the average age at the first visit was 3 years old.
- Delta Dental recommends: Children should first visit the dentist within six months of getting the first tooth – and no later than the first birthday.
- Survey shows: Only 58 percent of children had their teeth brushed twice a day and 34 percent of children brush for less than two minutes.
- Delta Dental recommends: Children’s teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Parents should assist with this task until the kids are about 6 years old.
- Survey shows: Forty-three percent of parents or caregivers report that their children’s teeth are never flossed, and of children whose teeth are flossed, only 23 percent are flossed daily.
- Delta Dental recommends: Once any two teeth are touching, caregivers should floss, or help the child floss, once a day.
About Delta Dental Plans Association
The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association (www.deltadental.com), based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. It provides dental benefits programs to more than 60 million Americans in more than 97,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more oral health news and information from Dr. Kohn and DDPA, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.