Delta Dental reminder: Good oral health habits start early

February 14, 2013

Delta Dental Insurance Company reminds everyone during National Children’s Dental Health Month that good oral health habits start early.

The just-released findings of the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey show that not only are many parents and caregivers 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.

Although cavities are nearly 100% preventable, more than one out of four American caregivers reported that their children had a cavity filled in the past year. Among children who had a cavity in the past year, 53% had two or more cavities.

Parents and caregivers need to teach good oral health habits to children at a young age to help prevent cavities. 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: About 75% 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. These activities can pass harmful bacterial to a child.
  • Survey shows: Of those respondents  with a child 4 years or younger, 49% 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% of children had their teeth brushed twice a day, and 34% 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: At least 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.
  • Delta Dental recommends: Once any two teeth are touching, caregivers should floss, or help the child floss, once a day.

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% confidence level.

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