Many Young Children off to a Poor Start with Dental Health (INFOGRAPHIC)
Dental problems such as early childhood caries (cavities in the baby teeth) are the leading cause of chronic disease for young children. Therefore, child health experts recommend that children begin oral health care by age 1, or when their first teeth emerge. However, families may not know about recommendations for early oral health care. In addition, finding a dentist who will see young children is a longstanding problem in many communities. To address this issue, pediatricians and other health care professionals are now seen as key partners in oral health.
In April 2011, the National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents about oral health care for children age 1-5.
As shown in the Infographic above, the proportion of young children who have been to the dentist increases with age. However, more than half of children under age 3 have not seen a dentist.
Among parents of children age 1-2, only 37% thought the first dental visit should occur at age 1 or earlier; 49% said age 2-3, and 14% said age 4 or older.
Oral Health Care during Well-Child Visits
Parents of children age 1 to 2 reported on oral health care performed by a health care provider during their children’s most recent well-child visit.
- 68% said their children’s teeth were examined
- 46% discussed taking their children to the dentist
- 47% talked about how to clean their children’s teeth
- 10% were told there was a problem with their children’s teeth
- 16% said fluoride varnish was applied to their children’s teeth
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