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Surprising Oral Health Facts About Children

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If there's one thing you've probably learned as a parent, it's that kids don't raise themselves. Okay, maybe you knew what you were getting into from the beginning. But the amount that there is to read and learn about bringing up a happy, healthy, intelligent, and empathetic child is seemingly endless. Where do you begin?! Well, if you're looking for info on caring for their oral health, you can start here. Read on for some surprising oral health facts about children to help you on your journey.

Tooth Decay Is a Common Childhood Disease in Children

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common diseases that affect children in the United States. Here's how it affects kids based on their ages group:

Ages 5 to 11

  • About 1 in 5 children at this age have at least one untreated decaying tooth.

Ages 12 to 19

  • About 1 of 7 in this age range have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

Children from low-income families

  • And children in both of these age ranges are twice as likely to have cavities if they come from low-income households.

Luckily, tooth decay is preventable by teaching your child to practice good oral hygiene and visiting a dentist or pediatric dentist for regular checkups.

The First Dentist Appointment Could Be Sooner Than You Think

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends scheduling a pediatric dentist visit as soon as your child's first tooth appears. Still, it's never too late to start bringing your kid in to see a dental professional. If your child has teeth coming in and you haven't scheduled a visit, start looking into great pediatric dentists and make an appointment as soon as you find one.

Learn how to prepare for your child's first dental visit.

Mouthrinse Isn't Recommended For Kids Under The Age of 6

Mouthrinse is an important part of any good oral health routine... that is for anyone older than 6, according to the ADA. If your child is younger than that, they may have trouble not swallowing the stuff. Second, the fluoride in mouthrinse that's good for older kids' and adults' teeth can cause a condition called fluorosis in teeth that are still forming. Fluorosis in developing teeth can cause brown or black streaks or spots.

Once your kid gets a little older, they can use special mouthrinses made for kids that come in fun bottles with flavors they'll enjoy and are specially formulated for children's needs. Just be sure to teach them how to swish it in their mouth and spit it out without swallowing.

Sports Are A Leading Cause of Dental Injuries

Most kids are involved in some sport, whether they play a team sport in a league or ride around on skateboards, bikes, rollerblades, or other individualized activities. And those sports can put them at risk for dental injuries. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry notes that sports cause 10 to 39 percent of children's dental injuries, particularly chipped and broken teeth. The best way to avoid this fate is to make sure your little athlete wears protective sports gear, including a mouthguard.

Developing Good Oral Hygiene Habits Early Is the Key to Prevention

The New York State Department of Health warns that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to a dental-related illness. By teaching your child to practice good oral hygiene and bringing them in for regular checkups, you can prevent more severe oral health issues and prevent them from missing out on their education.

Remember that a large part of passing along good habits to your children is practicing good habits yourself. Brush at least twice a day, and don't forget to brush your tongue. Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day. Consider using other helpful products like an antimicrobial mouthrinse and a tongue scraper. And visit your dental professional for regular checkups. When your child sees you prioritizing healthy habits (especially if you make it fun), they're more likely to do the same. That's something you can both smile about.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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