Survey: Many U.S. adults not aware of cavity prevention control

By Tony Edwards, DrBicuspid.com editor in chief

February 9, 2016 — Over 40% of more than 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed believe they have little or no control over whether they get a cavity, according to a new Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) survey released February 4.

In fact, only 57% of respondents even believe they have “significant control” over getting a cavity. Significant control is the combination of two categories on the survey: total control and a lot of control.

The survey also found that at least 40% of adults answered incorrectly to the following statements:

  • “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.” In fact, 41% responded that parents should begin brushing their child’s teeth at 3 years.

“Only 43% of adults surveyed believe they have much control over whether they get a cavity,” stated Meg Booth, CDHP’s executive director, in a press release. “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.”

Survey results

The survey was conducted in December 2015 among more than 1,000 U.S. adults 18 years and older.

“We need to remind families that they have more control than they realize, and prevention starts long before children enter school.”— Meg Booth, CDHP executive director

When asked, “Which of the following is the most common chronic health condition affecting U.S. children and teens?” 8 out of 10 respondents stated obesity, with only 7% citing tooth decay. Diabetes also scored higher than tooth decay at 9%.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic health condition of childhood, and it is also two to three times more common than childhood asthma or obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The correct response rate fell to 4% among adults earning less than $35,000, the CDHP noted.

In addition, 9% also responded that the statement “Pregnant women should not receive a dental exam or get a cavity filled” is true, while 14% responded that it was true that those who “regularly brush with fluoride toothpaste don’t benefit from drinking fluoridated water.”

Matt Jacob, CDHP’s director of communications, told DrBicuspid.com there were some positives.

“There were a few silver linings to our survey,” Jacob said. “For example, it was encouraging to see that 86% of those surveyed felt that drinking fluoridated water is beneficial even for those who brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste.”

( Dr Tim’s take away: It’s an interesting result, you may agree or disagree with some of the information but the bottom line is parents need to take control of their families diets and brushing habits to prevent cavities.) thus this is a preventable disease with careful planning and consideration.

Ultimately, we’re all worried about our pocket books and this will decreasing the total costs to a family over time. Prevention is king for most of us.  There are cases were prevention is more difficult but not unattainable that I have seen over the years.)