Children missing preventive dental checkups during COVID-19 pandemic

By Dr. Sheila Strock on February 1, 2022 in Children’s Oral Health

icon image of teeth with decayAn estimated 1 in 4 households with children missed a preventive health appointment for their child in the last 12 months.

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 received the preventive oral health care visit with their dentist during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Click image to enlarge.)

Majority of caregivers note children’s oral health worsening

Three in four parents (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 also can have an effect on 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 early 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.4 Sealants can be especially beneficial for children at higher risk of tooth decay and are often applied to permanent molars as soon as they appear to help protect hard-to-reach areas on teeth from decay. Dental care providers 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.

Starting dental visits from an early age can set children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles, and it’s important to visit the dentist by age 1. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Dentist By 1 program offers training for oral health professionals and education for caregivers on the importance of taking kids to the dentist by their 1st birthday. 

By taking the pledge to take their children to the dentist by age 1, caregivers will receive a free child’s oral health kit from the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. Learn more at

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