CDHP survey pinpoints U.S. adults' lack of awareness about pediatric oral health

A national survey conducted for the Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) shows significant gaps in adults’ knowledge about children’s oral health, including the causes of tooth decay and when to start brushing children’s teeth.

A national survey conducted for the Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) shows significant gaps in adults’ knowledge about children’s oral health, including the causes of tooth decay and when to start brushing children’s teeth. The survey results were released as dental health organizations observe Children’s Dental Health Month (February).

In addition, more than two in five U.S. adults erroneously believe they have little or no control over whether they get a cavity.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic health condition of childhood, and two to three times more common than childhood asthma or obesity. It’s especially concentrated among children from low-income families.

Only 7% of adults correctly identified tooth decay as the #1 chronic health condition of childhood. The correct response rate fell to 4% among adults earning less than $35,000.

“Only 43% of adults surveyed believe they have much control over whether they get a cavity,” said Meg Booth, CDHP’s executive director. “We need to remind families that they have more control than they realize, and prevention starts long before children enter school. We all need to give families the knowledge and tools that support the habits that will put children on a lifelong path of oral health.”

CDHP aims to advance such approaches through EndCavities.org— with resources for policymakers, health professionals, and advocates to create a new coordinated system of care for children at highest risk for tooth decay.

The website includes fact sheets, infographics, an issue brief, and video content. EndCavities.orgwas created by CDHP with financial support from the Colgate-Palmolive Company.

The CDHP survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, also found that least 40% of adults are unaware that:

  • The bacteria that cause tooth decay can be transmitted from a parent to a child.
  • The sugar in natural fruit juice can contribute to childhood cavities.
  • A parent should begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth.

The survey was conducted with 1,011 U.S. adults on December 7-11, 2015.

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