One of the most important responsibilities that all parents have is keeping their children healthy, and safe. Not only does this include preventing health problems, but also ensuring children are taught good personal health habits to carry forward throughout their lives. Oral health affects their ability to speak, smile, eat, and show emotions. It also affects self-esteem, school performance, and attendance at school or work. Oral diseases—which range from cavities to gum disease to oral cancer—cause pain and disability, delayed overall development, systemic health conditions, and social stigmatization.
Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States and the single most common chronic disease among U.S. children; the highest rates are found in economically disadvantaged and minority populations. Even though cavities are highly preventable through early continual home care and regular professional dental services, the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found visible decay in 30 percent of 2- to 5-year- old children living in poverty compared with 6 percent of children in families with the highest income levels.