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The Importance of Building Good Oral Health at a Young Age

This blog post is an excerpt from the Benevis Whitepaper “The Dental Divide and the Health Chasm It Creates for Too Many Children

Having routine dental care and good oral health habits from an early age is essential. It lays the foundation for better overall health throughout life. Unfortunately, far too many children across the U.S. receive inadequate preventive dental care and have poor oral health. Cavities (i.e. tooth decay or caries) are among the most common chronic diseases for children nationwide.*

The odds are especially stacked against children from underserved communities. The CDC estimates children from low-income families between ages 5-19 are twice as likely to have cavities compared to children from higher income families.

Childhood Cavities Are All-Too Common

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 50% of children between ages 6-8 will have a cavity in at least one baby tooth
  • More than 50% of adolescents between ages 12-19 will have a cavity in at least one permanent tooth**

If left untreated, the tooth pains and discomfort these children experience as a result of their cavities can make it difficult for them to eat, speak, learn, or focus on their studies.*** They are more likely to get insufficient nutrition, miss classes, or struggle in school, all of which impede their overall growth and development.****

Cavities can be prevented with routine dental care, yet just 1.5% of children receive preventive dental care each year.**** Children cannot establish good oral health habits on their own without guidance. Families, parents, and guardians must be involved both in teaching their children how to properly and consistently care for their teeth and gums, and in ensuring they receive regular dental care and checkups.


*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: Children’s Oral Health.CDC Division of Oral Health, April 6, 2022.

CDC website: “Children’s Oral Health.” CDC Division of Oral Health, April 6, 2022.

**HeadStart website: Oral Health.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, Accessed May 2, 2022.

***Thompson, V.: Texas Improves Access to Routine Oral Health Services for Very Young Children.” National Academy for State Health Policy, Jan. 15, 2021.

****Tung, P., Thompson, L.A.: What Parents Need to Know About Childhood Oral Health.” JAMA Pediatrics, Aug. 30, 2021.