About 20% of children aged 5-11 have at least one untreated cavity. Untreated cavities can be painful, and can make eating, speaking, and learning difficult. Children with untreated cavities and poor oral health miss more school, and receive lower grades, than classmates whose mouths and teeth are healthy.
Cavities are preventable, and good oral care habits can form early.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) P-E-A-R-L-S of Wisdom are a good dental health reminder for parents of very young children:
- Protect tiny teeth by caring for your own teeth while you are pregnant. Your expectant child’s oral health starts with you.
- Ensure to wipe your baby’s gums after each meal.
- Avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle. Milk can pool around the baby’s teeth and cause tooth decay.
- Remember to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If child is younger than 2 years, ask a doctor or dentist about when to begin using fluoride toothpaste.
- Limit sugary drinks and sweet snacks, and encourage natural fruits and vegetables.
- Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday, or after their first tooth appears.
For children old enough to brush their own teeth, the CDC recommends:
- Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink fluoridated water.
- Schedule dental checkups every six months.
- Apply dental sealants when appropriate.
- Watch kids 6-and-under as they brush. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and always spit rather than swallow.
- Begin flossing once a child’s teeth touch.
- Snack healthy. Fruit juices, sports drinks, fruit snacks, and sticky candies can cause cavities. Calcium-rich cheeses and low-sugar yogurts are healthier.
- Change toothbrushes every 3-4 months.
Oral health is important, and good care at home is vital in light of the pandemic which has limited access to office visits.
Schedule dental checkups for your child every six months if possible.
Some dentists offer telehealth services. Capital Blue Cross is waiving member fees for Blue Cross Dental members for some in-network teledentistry consultations through June 30, 2021. That means you are not responsible for paying a copay, coinsurance, or deductible for a teledentistry visit. During this time, we are waiving frequency limits for these evaluations, and visits will not count toward your annual visit amount.
Members may call their dentist to see if they provide teledentistry services.