Here’s something that might surprise you: Tooth decay is the number one chronic disease among children.

Smile San Bernardino County (Smile SBC) in the Department of Public Health and First 5 San Bernardino have teamed up to relay the message about the importance of early dental visits with their “Little Teeth, Big Responsibility” campaign. The campaign includes billboards and online advertising in San Bernardino County, as well as a new website, social media posts and publicity.

According to Christine Hoang, DDS, a dentist with San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, “Three out of four third graders are experiencing tooth decay in San Bernardino County.”

The county is urging parents and caregivers to make their child’s oral health a priority, and this starts by taking a child to the dentist by their first birthday – even if they don’t have any baby teeth yet. Other important care tips include:

  • Wipe gums twice a day. Use a soft, clean cloth to help wipe away cavity-causing sugars.
  • Once baby teeth come in, brush twice a day with a small-bristled toothbrush.
  • Limit sugary drinks.

“We want to encourage parents to put their children’s oral health at the top of their lists,” said Karen Scott, executive director of First 5 San Bernardino.  “It is important to get children to the dentist early so they can become comfortable with the dentist and caregivers can learn how best to prevent cavities.”

Parents are also encouraged to visit to find links to San Bernardino County dental offices in Ontario, San Bernardino and Hesperia as well as tools to search for other nearby dentists. The website also has information about how to get help with enrollment or transportation, as well as other dental health resources.