Although cavities are nearly 100% preventable, more than 1/4 of 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.
These are some of the oral health habits that fall short of what’s recommended by dental professionals:
- 75% percent of caregivers say they share utensils such as a spoon, fork, or glass with a child.
- Recommendation: 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 bacteria to a child.
- 49% of Americans with a child 4 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.
- Recommendation: 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 decay. Instead, caregivers should fill the bottle with water.
- For children who have visited the dentist, the average age at the first visit was 3 years old.
- Recommendation: Children should first visit the dentist within 6 months of getting the first tooth – and no later than the first birthday.
- Only 58% of children had their teeth brushed twice a day and 34% of children brush for less than 2 minutes.
- Recommendation: Children’s teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time. Parents should assist with this task until the kids are about 6 years old.
- 43% of parents or caregivers report that their children’s teeth are never flossed, and of children whose teeth are flossed, only 23% are flossed daily.
- Recommendation: Once any 2 teeth are touching, caregivers should floss, or help the child floss, once a day.
1 Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.