February is Children’s Dental Awareness Month

Developing good oral health habits at an early age and visiting the dentist regularly helps children get a great start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums!

Get the Facts

  • Cavities (also known as caries or tooth decay) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States.
  • Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, more than 50 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay before age five.
  • Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t. According to the Office of the Surgeon General, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related conditions.
  • According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, every dollar spent on preventative dental care could save you $8 to $50 in restorative and emergency dental treatments and potentially more in additional types of medical treatment.
  • About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • 1 of 7 (13%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • Children aged 5 to 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities, compared with children from higher-income households (11%).1

Take Action

The good news is that cavities are preventable.

  • A child should see a pediatric dentist when their first tooth appears, or by his or her first birthday.
  • Wipe gums twice a day with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed to wipe away bacteria and sugars that can cause cavities.
  • When teeth come in, start brushing twice a day with a soft, small‑bristled toothbrush and plain water.
  • Help keep your child’s teeth healthy by using the 2-2-2 rule: visit your dentist two times a year, and brush and floss TWO times a day for TWO whole minutes!
  • In general, teeth should be brushed for a full two minutes, twice per day. If your child is racing through cleaning, try setting a timer or help them hum their favorite tune.
  • Teach your children to be gentle with their teeth. Too much pressure may damage their gums.
  • The ADA recommends changing toothbrushes every 3-4 months. Frayed and broken bristles won’t keep your child’s teeth clean. When you’re shopping, look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Fluoride varnish can prevent about one-third (33%) of cavities in the primary (baby) teeth.
  • Children living in communities with fluoridated tap water have fewer cavities than children whose water is not fluoridated.
  • Children who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste will have fewer cavities.
  • Dental sealants can also prevent cavities for many years. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth prevent 80% of cavities.


Call Community Health Net to schedule your child’s dental exam today! Call (814) 456-8548.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service partnership of Community Health Net and CF Cares of Country Fair Stores, Inc.

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