Brushing your children’s teeth may not be one of your highest priorities, but a recent survey by Delta Dental has revealed one more reason it should be.

Delta Dental’s annual survey of working parents has revealed that in 2016, 45 percent of parents missed "some" work to deal with their child’s oral health problems. That is a 6 percent increase from 2015. Those numbers aren’t surprising to Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas.

"According to the CDC, about 42 percent of children have at least one cavity," says Hill. "So those numbers seem to match up pretty well."

According to the Delta survey, of those 45 percent of parents, 10 percent reported missing one to three hours of work (a 2 percent increase), while 14 percent missed four to 10 hours, a 4 percent increase over the previous year.

"This tells me that more kids could be experiencing dental problems, and many of those problems are increasing in severity," says Hill. "But it could also mean that more children have access to dental insurance over the previous year."

Hill says parents should not think of baby teeth as simply "throw away" teeth.

"Even though they eventually fall out, baby teeth are extremely important," he says. "They not only help your children talk and chew, they are also placeholders for adult teeth. Improper care of these teeth can cause everything from infection to painful cavities and decay, and losing baby teeth prematurely can cause misalignment issues with developing adult teeth."

Hill recommends that parents help children brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Parents should also help kids floss between their teeth at least once a day. Children should have their first dental exam by age 1, or as soon as their first tooth appears.

"This provides your dentist the opportunity to make sure your child’s teeth are growing in properly, and it gets your child comfortable with the dentist and with oral care at an early age," Hill says. "This can help eliminate a lot of dental anxiety later on - and prevent a lot of missed work and school days."