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5 Surprising Statistics on Children's Dental Health

Child at dentistWhile a lot of progress in meeting children's medical and dental needs has occurred over the last few decades, you might find some statistics on their oral health surprising.

Still Lots of Untreated Cavities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly one out of every five U.S. children has untreated cavities. The rate is 19.5 percent for kids between ages 2 and 5 and 22.9 percent in youngsters between 6 and 19.

Rates among girls and boys are roughly equal. However, race, ethnic origin, and poverty level all still appear to be significant factors in the percentage of untreated cavities experienced by U.S. children.

Most Common Childhood Disease

When asked what's the most common chronic childhood disease, you're wrong if you answer asthma, allergies, obesity, or diabetes. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is number one.

As a matter of fact, it's five times more common than asthma and occurs four times more often than early-childhood obesity. Tooth decay also strikes a whopping 20 times more often than diabetes.

Dental Issues in Schools

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools says dental problems have a big effect on the American school day. Students lose more than 51 million school hours every year because of illnesses related to dental problems.

One out of every four kids has never been to the dentist before they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. More than a third of U.S. schools find it necessary to refer kids for treatment of dental problems.

Sealants Don't Last Forever

The development of these plastic coatings to protect the chewing surfaces of children's teeth has significantly reduced tooth decay statistics. However, if your child has sealants, don't assume they'll last forever.

The CDC states the life of a sealant is probably somewhere between 5 to 10 years. Dentists should check the condition of these protectors at all regular checkups and recommend replacement as needed. The agency adds that while sealants play an important role in children's oral health, they're not a replacement for fluoride when it comes to cavity protection.

The Downside of Sports

Life would seem awfully dull in many communities without the presence of children's team sports. Yet as many as 39 percent of dental injuries occur while kids are playing sports, according to Colgate.

Despite the best precautions, accidents happen. Around 80 percent of all dental injuries occur to one of a child's front teeth.

Helmets and mouth guards are two forms of protection. Once an accident has happened, the most important thing to do is get to a dentist as fast as possible.

One of the best ways to improve dental health is generating awareness of little-known facts about what goes on in a child's mouth. National Children's Dental Health Month is the perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about children's oral health needs.

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