Tooth decay — the disease that causes cavities — is 2 to 3 times more common than childhood obesity or asthma. The pain from dental infections can hurt a child's development and success in school. Tooth decay during early childhood is the strongest predictor of adult oral health problems.
The most cost-effective approach to preventing cavities is focusing on pregnant women and preschool-age children (ages 0-5). In addition to improving children's health and well-being, ending cavities can save money. U.S. spending on dental care is well above $100 billion, and dental costs consume nearly 1 in 5 dollars of children’s overall health spending.
Raising awareness is crucial because only 7% of Americans know that preventable tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting kids. A recent national survey also reveals significant gaps in adults’ knowledge about children’s dental health, including the causes of tooth decay and when to begin brushing a child’s teeth. In fact, 82% of respondents did not know that the bacteria that causes tooth decay can be transmitted from a parent to a child.
This is a wake-up call. We need new approaches and policies. Our current system of care tends to incentivize surgical treatment over disease prevention. End Cavities provides resources for policymakers, health professionals and advocates to help create a new coordinated system of care for children at highest risk for tooth decay.
Learn more about what's at stake, including both the human and economic cost of early childhood cavities. Health and children's advocates: use these talking points to start a conversation in your community or state about what it will take to End Cavities.