Children missing preventive dental checkups during COVID-19 pandemic

Delta Dental of Illinois addresses issue during Children’s Dental Health Month.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Feb. 1, 2022) — An estimated 1 in 4 households with children missed a preventive health appointment for their child in the last 12 months.1

Throughout February, Delta Dental of Illinois is emphasizing the importance of good oral health care for children in honor of Children’s Dental Health Month. This reminder is even more important as some Illinois children haven’t visited their dentist for preventive oral health care during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“While tooth decay is very common among children, it is nearly 100% preventable. Routine preventive dental visits, along with good oral health care at home, are essential to maintaining a healthy smile from a young age,” said Dr. Sheila Strock, vice president of dental services and chief science officer at Delta Dental of Illinois. “It’s safe to visit the dentist – and is important to do so to help prevent cavities.”

Majority of caregivers note children’s oral health worsening

Three in 4 caregivers (77%) believe their children’s oral health is not currently as good as it could be.2 In fact, the average number of cavities increased from one to two cavities per child last year when compared to the previous year.3

Over time, dental decay can lead to infection of the teeth and gums and can cause many problems for a child’s oral health and well-being. Tooth decay is not only painful, but can also influence self-esteem, school attendance, concentration and grades.

Routine preventive dental appointments – including exams, cleanings and X-rays – can help prevent tooth decay or catch it in the initial stages. Additional care, such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants, can further help prevent tooth decay.

According to the American Dental Association, dental sealants decrease the risk of cavities by 80% on permanent molars.

“Sealants can be especially beneficially for children at higher risk of tooth decay,” Strock said. “They are often applied to permanent molars as soon as they appear to help protect hard-to-reach areas on teeth from decay. Your dental care provider can answer any questions and offer additional guidance.”

Addressing the importance of preventive dental care

Delta Dental of Illinois is urging caregivers to continue routine preventive oral health care for their children and themselves. While coverage varies among dental plans, many plans cover most or all of cleanings and exams and offer some coverage for fluoride treatments and dental sealants for children. Find a dentist and schedule a preventive visit today.

It’s important for children to visit the dentist by age 1, which can help set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Learn more at Dental Care for Children.

About the Delta Dental of Illinois

Delta Dental is the national dental benefits leader covering 1 in 3 Americans who have dental coverage. Delta Dental of Illinois is one of 39 member companies that make up the national Delta Dental system. Based in Naperville, Illinois, Delta Dental of Illinois provides dental benefit programs to over 6,500 Illinois companies and covers more than 2 million individuals, employees and family members nationwide. Delta Dental of Illinois is committed to improving oral health in our community and furthers this commitment through the work of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation.


1Kaiser Family Foundation, research conducted from June 23 – July 5, 2021

2,3Delta Dental The State of American's Oral Health Report, research conducted December 28, 2020 to January 8, 2021