Pediatric Dentists Highlight Gaps in Oral Health Knowledge and Generational Differences in Caring for Little Teeth

A new national survey conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) reveals nearly three quarters (74 percent) of U.S. parents do not take their child to the dentist by their first birthday, the age recommended by AAPD. Of the quarter of parents (26 percent) who do take their child to the dentist by their first birthday, millennial parents (29 percent) are more likely to take their child to the dentist by age 1 than any other generation.  Additionally, while 96 percent of parents say oral health is important to their family, many do not think toothaches are a serious ailment, with 3 in 10 parents (31 percent) ranking toothaches as the least serious ailment compared to tummy aches, earaches, headaches and sore throats.

Tooth decay remains the most common chronic infectious disease among children, and can compromise the health, development and quality of life of children both in the short and long term. 1 The good news is that it’s nearly 100 percent preventable. Caring for teeth at an early age is critical and establishing a Dental Home is the first step to creating a lifetime of healthy habits for children. A Dental Home sets the foundation for an ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient family. It is also important not to ignore signs of toothaches at any age. This is especially true with young children, as toothaches can be a warning sign for a number of ailments including cavities or infection, which can be treated and prevented if caught early enough.

“While it’s encouraging to know so many parents value oral health, the survey also reveals parents need more information on the first steps to take when it comes to creating an overall foundation for the health and well-being of their child,” says AAPD President and pediatric dentist Joe Castellano, D.D.S. “By establishing a Dental Home early on in a child’s life, the chance for developing tooth decay is significantly reduced. A pediatric dentist can provide parents with helpful information, including how to put a brushing routine into action for your child.”

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