Oral Care for U.S. Kids Still Needs Work
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Study Results

The statistics tell the story. The prevalence of tooth decay decreased during the period from 1999 to 2004, compared with the period from 1988 to 1994, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This decrease in tooth decay in permanent teeth is encouraging, but kids’ oral care statistics show that more work is needed.

In particular, the prevalence of tooth decay in the baby teeth of U.S. children aged two to five years increased from 24 percent during the 1988-1994 period to 28 percent during the 1998-2004 period.

Several ethnic and economic disparities persist in oral care for children. The CDC data showed that 12 percent of children aged six to 11 years from families with poverty-level incomes had untreated tooth decay, compared with four percent of children from families with incomes about the poverty line.

And Mexican American children aged six to 11 years were almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic white children to have tooth decay in their permanent teeth (31 percent vs. 19 percent).

But overall, 38 percent of teens aged 12 to 19 years had been treated with dental sealants to help protect their teeth from decay, the CDC report noted. Sealants are one way to help prevent cavities in children and they are becoming more popular with dentists and patients in the U.S.

The report, “Trends in Oral Health Status—United States, 1988-1994 and 1998-2004,” was released in April 2007 and provides a current and comprehensive overview of oral health care in the United States. You can find more statistics by visiting cdc.gov.

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