Cavities are the most common chronic condition among children and are 100% preventable. Delta Dental of Idaho is here to help spread awareness about how poor oral health and cavities impact our kids’ health and quality of life. The CDC states that 20% of children 5 to 11 years of age have untreated tooth decay. Did you know, that fluoride varnish can prevent about 1/3 of cavities in baby teeth?
Have you heard the phrase “bad teeth run in the family”? Unfortunately, poor brushing and flossing habits are really what’s being passed down from generation to generation. Research proves that poor oral health isn’t genetic. “If people think the health of their teeth is down to their genetic make-up, they may not be prepared to make important lifestyle changes,” Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Dr. Silva said.
Dr. Silva’s research emphasizes how important it is for pediatricians and other health professionals to educate children. Starting preventive measures early in life is critical to having a healthy mouth and avoiding dental problems in the future. Preventive care teaches kids to take care of their teeth while they’re healthy, so they don’t have to worry about tooth decay.
The Consequences of Cavities
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. Research shows that when kids are absent, their performance is negatively impacted.
In addition to lowered attendance and performance, a child’s self-esteem can also take a hit when they have tooth decay. After studying children from 14 participating schools, researchers found that dental health and happiness were linked. More specifically, dental health has a substantial influence on self-esteem. Dental health impacts a child’s ability to “accept the worthiness of oneself.”
Proper oral health care decreases the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth which ultimately affects overall health. Endocarditis, pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, and birth complications are all linked to poor oral health. The risk of cardiovascular disease is 34% higher among people with periodontal disease.
What Makes a Healthy Mouth?
There are simple steps you can take to help your child have a cavity-free smile. Dental coverage plays a role in maintaining good oral health. Starting prevention at an early age is extremely important in your oral and overall health and since people with dental benefits are more likely to see a dentist, the odds are in your favor if you are a current DDID member.
Here are a few expert tips for ensuring your kids have a healthy mouth and smile:
- Before baby has teeth, clean their gums with a soft cloth.
- When teeth appear: brush teeth with a small, soft toothbrush without toothpaste and clean gums with a soft cloth.
- A baby should see a dentist by his or her first birthday.
- At age two, brush teeth with a pea-sized drop of fluoridated toothpaste.
- Wipe teeth when finished until the child can rinse and spit.
- Never dip a pacifier in sugary substances or put sweetened liquids in a baby bottle.
- Do not leave your child unattended with a baby bottle, especially at bedtime.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks, especially sticky foods such as raisins and fruit roll-ups.
- See your dentist and health care provider regularly!
- Your child should start regular visits to the dentist by age one. The dentist will look in your baby’s mouth and talk to you to determine if they are at risk for dental disease.
- Parents should see a dentist regularly to keep their mouths clean and limit the cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths which can easily transfer to babies.
For more information on children’s oral health, click here.