Parents struggle with kids' oral care habits in Delta Dental survey

Caregivers say it’s easier to get children to do chores than brush and floss 

OAK BROOK, Ill. — August 12, 2019 — Summer break is in full swing, but our oral health requires studious attention all year round. According to the Children’s Oral Health Survey, nearly 1 in 2 parents in America is challenged with getting their kids to practice proper oral care. Moms and dads share that two of the most daunting tasks as a caregiver is getting their children to brush (46%) and floss (47%). Maintaining oral hygiene is right up there with getting kids to eat their vegetables (48%).

The Delta Dental national survey indicates that having kids make their beds (29%) is relatively easy for parents compared to instituting proper oral care. In fact, securing kids’ help with chores (43%) seems to be less of an effort for parents than obtaining children’s cooperation on their healthy smiles.

Is there hope for better oral care habits as kids age? The most challenging age group to get to brush appears to be children under 3 years old (49%), with the struggle to brush declining to a low of 42% for kids 6-9 years old.

“In summer, many children’s daily routines may take on a leisurely pace. Already poor oral habits could continue to deteriorate,” said Joe Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and network strategy. “Try to make dental care fun for kids while showing them the proper way to brush and floss.”

Summertime also tends to coincide with increased consumption of sugary snacks and beverages that can promote tooth decay. Dr. Dill recommends healthy summer snacks like apples, carrots and celery to help scrub teeth between meals. In addition, sugar-free gum with xylitol can help clean children’s teeth when toothbrushes are not available.

Back-to-school dental screenings

The new school year is fast approaching, and several states mandate dental screening certificates for children to be enrolled in school. Dental screening requirements reinforce the important role of children’s oral health during the academic year, as oral health diseases, such as tooth decay, can interfere with learning.

As a part of children’s preventive oral health routines, Dr. Dill recommends scheduling regular dental check-ups, which are typically every six months. During a dental exam, your dentist can identify any issues and recommend treatment.

Summer camp essentials

Compiling a checklist to get your children ready for summer camp? In Delta Dental’s Grin! Summer 2019 issue, find out must-haves to remember as kids go off to camp. Basic toiletries and personal needs, outdoor protection, healthy snacks, and emergency supplies are covered in this brief article.

About the survey

The Children’s Oral Health Survey was conducted between December 31, 2018, and January 13, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,481 parents of children ages 12 and under. The margin of error is +/- 3%.

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About Delta Dental Plans Association

Delta Dental Plans Association, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, is the not-for-profit national association of the 39 independent Delta Dental companies. Through these companies, Delta Dental is the nation’s largest provider of dental insurance, covering more than 80 million Americans, and offering the country’s largest dental network with approximately 156,000 participating dentists. In 2017, Delta Dental companies provided more than $61 million in direct and in-kind community outreach support to improve the oral health of adults, children and infants in local communities across the country. For more information, visit: