The following oral health policy statements are meant to indicate America’s ToothFairy’s position on various issues surrounding children’s oral health. They are not meant as advice or guidance for the public. America’s ToothFairy encourages parents to consult with their pediatrician and pediatric dentist regarding care for their children’s oral and overall health.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US Health and Human Services), individuals should consume less than 10% of total caloric intake (per day) from sugar. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)* are the largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet. As a result of the impact SSBs have on oral and overall health, America’s ToothFairy supports the consumption of water over sugar-sweetened beverages. As a contributing factor in tooth decay, America’s ToothFairy believes sugar intake should be monitored and limited for children, youth and adults.
*Includes soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and drinks where sugar is added.
Community Water Fluoridation
Community water fluoridation is often the only access to fluoride, a proven tooth decay preventative, received by low-income and underserved children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified community water fluoridation as the most cost effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of a community regardless of age, education or income and named it one of the ten greatest health achievements of the 20th Century. America’s ToothFairy supports community water fluoridation and efforts to cease the removal of fluoride in water where it currently exists.
Access to Clean Drinking Water
Children and youth have easy access to an array of unhealthy beverage choices in many of the settings in which they live, learn and play. Even fruit juices, often viewed as healthy for children, contain high levels of natural sugars that can be harmful to teeth. America’s ToothFairy supports efforts to increase access to clean drinking water for children in school, sports and other childcare settings, thus encouraging consumption of water over any other beverage. All children should have access to clean, fluoridated drinking water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental sealants reduce tooth decay in children by more than 60 percent, and school-based sealant programs are considered a best practice in preventing dental caries in children. As a result of this understanding, America’s ToothFairy supports access to application of dental sealants for all children, especially those considered at high risk for dental caries.
Fluoride is a proven preventative for tooth decay. There are multiple delivery methods for fluoride, including toothpaste, mouth rinse and fluoride varnish. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states fluoride varnish is effective in the prevention and control of dental caries in both primary and permanent teeth. Application is particularly advantageous for children at high risk for dental caries and those in communities without fluoridated water. America’s ToothFairy supports the application of fluoride varnish in dental and medical environments accompanied by anticipatory guidance (parent/caregiver oral health education) regarding appropriate dental care for children, as well as daily use of fluoridated products, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse, as directed by a dental professional.
Oral Health & Overall Health
Oral health is directly connected to a child’s overall systemic health and well-being. Untreated tooth decay and other oral health problems can lead to pain, malnourishment, anemia, secondary infections and even death. America’s ToothFairy supports efforts to engage both medical and dental professionals, as well as other frontline promoters of children’s health and wellness, in addressing oral heath and its impact on overall systemic health.
Oral Health & Pregnancy
A pregnant mother’s oral health and daily habits impact the health of her unborn child. America’s ToothFairy supports the receiving of dental care during pregnancy (i.e., regular dental check-ups and cleanings), as well as educational services to assist pregnant mothers in understanding the impact of their own oral health on the health of an unborn child. When breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to clean their child’s gums before and after each feeding. Parents should follow the advice of a pediatric dentist regarding proper care for children’s teeth and gums, in conjunction with regular infant medical exams by a pediatrician, to ensure optimal oral health.
Oral Health & Nutrition
Children with oral health issues often experience difficulty chewing food. A child’s inability to consume healthy foods impacts his/her health and ability to eat, sleep and learn. Nutritional intake affects a child’s teeth and gums, as well as overall systemic health and wellness. America’s ToothFairy supports oral health education as a component of initiatives to increase access to nutritious foods in school, summer programs and at home. Access to clean drinking water in all environments where children learn, live and play is critical for optimal health.
Oral Health & Substance Use
Due to the negative impact alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) have on oral health, America’s ToothFairy believes ensuring effective national, state and local policies to decrease youth access and use is essential to oral and overall health. Additionally, proven and effective prevention of initiation and deterrents to onset of ATOD use, particularly for youth, are encouraged (i.e., effective programs, informed policies, etc.).