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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 19 percent of kids between the ages of 2 and 19 have untreated cavities. It's up to parents to help kids learn good oral hygiene habits early in order to enjoy a healthier smile. Here are some of the biggest cavity culprits that are hindering kids' oral health today. Recognize any of these in your kids?

Sippy Cups

Sippy cups are super, as any parent of a spill-prone toddler will tell you. But for the best dental health, limit them to mealtime and snack time. Sipping on sugary drinks all day leaves teeth coated in, well, sugary drinks. Additionally, have kids swish with regular water after any sugary drink.

Sugary Drinks

Of course, it's not just sippy cups that are the problem—it's what's in those cups. Even 100% fruit juices can be loaded with sugar. Keep juices and fizzy drinks for special occasions and not for all day sipping.

Thumb Sucking

When kids suck their thumbs past age five when permanent teeth start to appear, it can lead to problems with their teeth and palate. Before then, don't worry. Thumb sucking is normal and may help you get more sleep. Most children gradually stop on their own.


Just like thumb sucking, pacifiers are a normal way toddlers can soothe themselves. Also just like thumb sucking, they can sometimes affect tooth and jaw development if continued after permanent teeth come in.

Good Oral Health Habits

Along with watching what foods and drinks your kids eat, make sure they follow good dental hygiene practices, like flossing daily, brushing twice daily and visiting a Smile Generation-trusted dentist once every six months.