The Importance of Your Child’s Dental Health

The Importance of Your Child's Dental Health text overlaying image of a little girl holding a toothbrush and toothpasteKids and adults actually have a lot of the same dental issues, but since kids’ teeth are still growing, they are more likely to have problems. If you don’t treat tooth problems early, they can get worse and cause their adult teeth to come out of place. If kids of any age don’t take good care of their teeth and gums, they can get cavities and gum issues. So, in addition to teaching your kids how important it is to brush and floss, you should also take them to the dentist regularly so they can get care from a professional. Like many parents, you may be worried about how much good dental care for kids will cost. Luckily, health insurance can help you pay for every visit without going into debt.

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Kids dental problems

Tooth Decay

One of the most common teeth problems that children have are cavities. As a matter of fact, the CDC says that 20% of kids ages 5 to 11 have at least one tooth that is slowly dying. A major contributor is plaque, which is made up of bacteria that sticks to teeth and eats away at the enamel, which in turn causes cavities. Tooth decay can be avoided by brushing and cleaning their teeth every day. A healthy diet that limits sweet and carbohydrate-rich foods which cause cavities is also important.

Bad Breath

Sometimes we all have halitosis, which is the professional term for bad breath. However, if your child’s breath smells bad all day, there is probably a bigger problem. Bad breath is caused by bacteria that grow in the mouth from leftover food and sticks to the gums. These bacteria give off hydrogen sulfide which has an odor to it. Halitosis can be caused by many things, such as dry mouth, bad oral hygiene, digestive problems, and even some medicines. The best way to keep bad breath away is to take care of your teeth and have your child’s doctor clean their teeth regularly.

Sensitive Teeth

If your child gets pain from air or hot or cold foods, he or she may have sensitive teeth. Children can also have sensitive teeth because their enamel is thinner and can wear down faster from plaque. Your child’s dentist can fix this by putting sealants on the places that are broken. These will fix any cracks in the enamel and make it stronger. To keep the enamel from wearing away, you should always use a soft toothbrush.

Teeth Misalignment

Thumb sucking is fine for babies and toddlers, but it can hurt a child’s oral growth if they keep doing it after age 5. Both baby and adult teeth can grow in wrong by thumb sucking too much. It can also make it hard to speak because it can change the way your teeth fit together. Talk to your child’s doctor about how to stop this habit.

Not Losing Baby Teeth

Baby teeth don’t always fall out. This is known as having over-retained primary teeth. This usually takes place because there isn’t a permanent tooth to replace the baby tooth. Misaligned jaws, blockages, damage, infections, and oral pathology are some other possible reasons. Tooth decay and other oral problems could happen if you don’t treat over-retained teeth. The baby tooth can be taken out by your child’s doctor so the adult tooth can grow in without any problems. Orthodontics can fix any kind of imbalance.

Gum Disease

The gum disease known as gingivitis can also happen to kids. If you don’t take care of their teeth properly, this gum inflammation can happen, which can cause bone loss. Plaque that builds up on the bottom of teeth hurts the gums and makes them swell and turn red. The teeth will start to pull away from the gums over time and bleed easily, especially after brushing.

Worn Down Teeth

It is normal for kids to grind their teeth, which is also called bruxism. Sometimes this happens when teeth aren’t lined up right, when you’re in pain, or when you’re stressed. Even though most people with bruxism don’t need treatment, if it doesn’t stop, both the baby and adult teeth could wear away. Inflammation, headaches, and pain in the jaw are common signs. If your child grinds their teeth at night, your pediatric dentist can give them a night guard instead.

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Does Health Insurance Cover Kids Dental?

Dental care for kids up to 18 years old is required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law says that all health plans sold in the Marketplace, the individual market, and through businesses with 50 or fewer workers must include dental benefits for children. This kind of insurance can be part of a medical plan or bought separately from your medical insurance. You should look at how much coverage each of these choices gives you. It’s possible that a separate dental plan will pay for more. 

Dental Coverage Through An ACA Plan

Kids’ oral care must be covered if you buy a plan from your state’s health insurance marketplace, or at least be an option. Plans vary from state to state, but most plans will cover these things:


  • Dental exams every 6 months
  • Cleanings
  • Fluoride treatments
  • X-rays
  • A portion of the cost of braces.

The perks may be different in your state and plan. To get these benefits, your plan may also say that you have to go to a dentist in their network. Before you buy a plan, make sure you know what dental care is covered and what isn’t.

Coverage Through Dental Insurance

Dental insurance can be helpful, especially when you need to pay for pricey treatments, checkups, and braces. Dental insurance can help pay for the following:


  •  Exams    
  •  X-rays   
  • Cleanings
  • Preventive care
  • Treatment for cavities and early childhood caries
  • Emergency treatment of injuries and damage caused by accidents
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Orthodontics for aligning teeth and fixing bite problems 

At this point, you may be thinking if you really need to get your child dental insurance. When do kids need to have dental insurance? You can get coverage for your baby so that they can see the doctor when their first tooth comes in. Additionally, giving a child this kind of protection at such a young age can be a smart move because the dentist will be able to watch their mouth grow and spot any problems that need to be fixed right away.  

Pediatric Dentistry Timeline

For the first 24 months of their life, your child’s mouth changes a lot. On the inside, tiny teeth are breaking through the gums, getting them ready for solid food. To avoid cavities, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that kids should go to the doctor every six months. It is very important that their tooth health improves properly and on time. If you know when your child’s teeth should be at certain stages, you can avoid problems as they grow. 

In Utero

Good mouth health starts before the baby is born. Women who are expecting should see a dentist before, during, and after the pregnancy. It is a good idea to see a doctor before getting pregnant if you are thinking about it. People often forget to take care of their teeth, but problems with oral health can be harmful to both mom and baby. 

0-4 Months

A baby’s mouth is getting ready for teeth to come in. Even though it might not seem like much needs to be done yet, you should start wiping your baby’s gums with a damp cloth. You could also use a soft rubber finger toothbrush to finish the job. To start, wipe their gums for two to three seconds at least twice a day. This will help keep your baby’s mouth clean and ready for their first teeth. Also, stay away from sugar that isn’t necessary for the new teeth.

4-6 Months

At this point in the child’s development, teething is starting to happen. Go ahead and wipe your child’s gums some more. Their mouth and new teeth may feel sensitive at first, but sticking to your oral care routine will help because plaque can start to form even on baby teeth. Now is a good time to start looking for a doctor for your child. Your dentist and the oral history of your family may decide that you need a check-up every six months to a year from now on. Stay away from foods that are high in citric acid and sugar that they don’t need. These foods can cause early tooth loss and plaque formation.

1 Year

Your child should have been to the doctor for the first time by the time they are one year old. Your child’s doctor should advise you that they should go to the dentist every six months. Checkups like these are done regularly to make sure that development and growth are going as planned. This lets the dentist see any problems that might come up as the teeth come in.


Now is a good time to get your child used to a toothbrush with soft bristles. Little kids will start to learn how to properly brush their teeth and spit out toothpaste. Start using toothpaste without fluoride until you can do this. You could also skip using toothpaste altogether and just use water. When their teeth start to touch on the sides, you should start flossing regularly. It’s best to do this after every meal. Setting up good oral care habits, like flossing every day, can keep them from having dental problems in the future.

2-3 Years Old

Now is when a lot of parents start to work on changing their kids’ pacifier habits. Pacifiers can be bad for their teeth. Too much use of a pacifier can change the way their mouth looks and how their teeth come in. Starting now, parents should help their child brush their teeth at least twice a day, but after every meal is even better. Fluoride toothpaste can be used from now on, as long as the child can spit. Since almost all 20 baby teeth should be in by age 3, you should now regularly floss. It is suggested that you see the doctor twice a year.

3-6 Years Old

When kids reach this age, they may be able to do more of their own oral care, but use your best judgment and help and watch them as needed. Some parts of a child’s mouth are hard to reach or can be missed, so make sure to check their teeth are clean. Your doctor should have looked at your child’s teeth with an x-ray by now to see how they look and how healthy they are. For even more peace of mind, you can talk about tooth sealants.

6-10 Years Old

At this age, your child should be able to clean their teeth on their own more. They should stick to a set schedule, whether it’s in the morning, at night, or both. It’s best to brush your kids’ teeth every day with them and praise them at the same time. This lets you keep an eye on their habits and teach them how important it is to brush and floss their teeth every day. Around age 7, if your child is having problems with their growth, their dentist may suggest that they see an orthodontist. As baby teeth turn into fixed adult teeth, regular trips to the dentist every six months will catch any damage to the teeth’s structure.

10+ Years Old

At this point, your child should be able to do everything on their own without your help. The right oral hygiene habits and routines will have been taught to your child, and they will be proud of their teeth. In fact, it’s important that it become a habit and be done every day. Regularly checking in with your child will show them how important it is to take care of their teeth.


Besides their wisdom teeth, all of your child’s adult teeth should be in their mouths by the time they are 13. They should still go to the doctor every six months to make sure their teeth are growing and developing properly. If there are major problems, they will be pointed out and fixed. If they haven’t already been checked out for braces, now is the time. 

The Bottom Line

It might not always seem important to have health insurance, but it is, because the health of your teeth can affect the health of your whole body. Oral problems, like gum disease, can lead to heart problems, strokes, and breathing problems if they are not handled. Your mouth and body will stay healthy if you have dental insurance. Plus, you won’t have to worry about big medical bills. One of our qualified agents can help you decide between health insurance that covers dental care and a separate dental plan. Call 877-670-3557 today. You can also use the bar below to type in your zip code and see quotes online.

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About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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