October is National Dental Hygiene Month

Did you know tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States? Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

  • 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.
  • The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families (25%) compared with children from higher-income households (11%).

The good news is that tooth decay is preventable. Fluoride varnish, a high-concentration fluoride coating that is painted on teeth, can prevent about one-third (33%) of decay in the primary (baby) teeth. Children living in communities with fluoridated tap water have fewer decayed teeth than children who live in areas where their tap water is not fluoridated. Similarly, children who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste will have less tooth decay.

Promote dental hygiene and National Dental Hygiene Month by inviting a local dentist to speak at an upcoming meeting or work with school administrators on a school wide rally. Find more oral health information at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.