Policy Statements

The American Academy of Pediatrics published its first policy related to oral health in 2003. Since then, AAP oral health experts have published additional policies and participate in the review of the AAP many policies on children’s health.

Guidelines for Monitoring and Management of Pediatric Patients Before, During, and After Sedation for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures: Update (2016) (1.05 MB)

The safe sedation of children for procedures requires a systematic approach that includes the following: no administration of sedating medication without the safety net of medical/dental supervision, careful presedation evaluation for underlying medical or surgical conditions that would place the child at increased risk from sedating medications, appropriate fasting for elective procedures and a balance between the depth of sedation and risk for those who are unable to fast because of the urgent nature of the procedure, a focused airway examination for large (kissing) tonsils or anatomic airway abnormalities that might increase the potential for airway obstruction, a clear understanding of the medication’s pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects and drug interactions, appropriate training and skills in airway management to allow rescue of the patient, age- and size-appropriate equipment for airway management and venous access, appropriate medications and reversal agents, sufficient numbers of staff to both carry out the procedure and monitor the patient, appropriate physiologic monitoring during and after the procedure, a properly equipped and staffed recovery area, recovery to the presedation level of consciousness before discharge from medical/dental supervision, and appropriate discharge instructions.

Maintaining and Improving the Oral Health of Young Children (2014) (681 KB)

Oral health is an integral part of the overall health of children. Dental caries is a common and chronic disease process with significant short- and long-term consequences. The prevalence of dental caries for the youngest of children has not decreased over the past decade, despite improvements for older children. As health care professionals responsible for the overall health of children, pediatricians frequently confront morbidity associated with dental caries. Because the youngest children visit the pediatrician more often than they visit the dentist, it is important that pediatricians be knowledgeable about the disease process of dental caries, prevention of the disease, and interventions available to the pediatrician and the family to maintain and restore health.

Fluoride Use in Caries Prevention in the Primary Care Setting (2014) (710 KB)

This succinct report will help to guide pediatricians and other health professionals regarding the use of fluoride as a caries prevention agent in the primary care setting. It covers the use of fluoride toothpaste in young children, fluoride varnish application in the primary care setting, fluoride supplements for children living in non-fluoridated areas, and facts about community water fluoridation.

Management of Dental Trauma in a Primary Care Setting (2014) (1.6 MB)

The American Academy of Pediatrics and its Section on Oral Health have developed this clinical report for pediatricians and primary care physicians regarding the diagnosis, evaluation, and management of dental trauma in children aged 1 to 21 years. This report was developed through a comprehensive search and analysis of the medical and dental literature and expert consensus. Guidelines published and updated by the International Association of Dental Traumatology are an excellent resource for both dental and nondental health care providers.

Oral Health Care for Children with Developmental Disabilities (2013) (693 KB)

Children with developmental disabilities often have unmet complex health care needs as well as significant physical and cognitive limitations. Children with more severe conditions and from low-income families are particularly at risk with high dental needs and poor access to care. In addition, children with developmental disabilities are living longer, requiring continued oral health care. This clinical report describes the effect that poor oral health has on children with developmental disabilities as well as the importance of partnerships between the pediatric medical and dental homes.

Early Childhood Caries in Indigenous Communities (2011) (164 KB)

The oral health of Indigenous children of Canada (First Nations, Inuit,
and Métis) and the United States (American Indian, Alaska Native) is a
major child health issue. This statement includes recommendations for preventive oral health and clinical care for young infants and pregnant women by primary health care providers, community-based health-promotion initiatives, oral health workforce and access issues, and advocacy for community water fluoridation and fluoride-varnish program access.

Oral Health Risk Assessment Timing and Establishment of the Dental Home (2003, reaffirmed in 2009) (57 KB)

Pediatricians and pediatric health care professionals should develop the knowledge base to perform oral health risk assessments on all patients beginning at 6 months of age. Patients who have been determined to be at risk of development of dental caries or who fall into recognized risk groups should be directed to establish a dental home 6 months after the first tooth erupts or by 1 year of age (whichever comes first).

Oral and Dental Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect (2005) (57 KB)

Physicians with experience or expertise in child abuse and neglect should make themselves available to dentists and to dental organizations as consultants and educators. Such efforts will strengthen our ability to prevent and detect child abuse and neglect and enhance our ability to care for and protect children.


kid brushing his teeth


Dental caries (cavities) is the most common chronic infectious disease of early childhood.