CDC: Disparities in caries still exist among youth

Disparities in caries continue to persist for some race and ethnic groups in the United States, according to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The report describes U.S. youth dental caries and sealant prevalence by race and Hispanic origin for 2011–2012. Key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) taken from 2011 to 2012 indicate the following:

  • Approximately 23 percent of children aged 2–5 years had dental caries in primary teeth.
  • Untreated tooth decay in primary teeth among children aged 2–8 was twice as high for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children compared with non-Hispanic white children.
  • Among those aged 6–11, 27 percent of Hispanic children had any dental caries in permanent teeth compared with nearly 18 percent of non-Hispanic white and Asian children.
  • About three in five adolescents aged 12–19 had experienced dental caries in permanent teeth, and 15 percent had untreated tooth decay.
  • Dental sealants were more prevalent for non-Hispanic white children (44 percent) compared with non-Hispanic black and Asian children (31 percent each) aged 6–11.

Bruce Dye, DDS, MPH, is a U.S. Public Health Service dental epidemiology officer and lead author of the data brief. Dye was quoted in the ADA News highlighting the positives that came from the study.

“Although tooth decay has been declining since the 1960s when national surveying began, 50 years ago – about 3 in 4 children had cavities in adult teeth by age 11. In 2011-12 – about 1 in 4 children had cavities in adult teeth by age 11,” Dye said.

While this is a positive trend, more work needs to be done. In particular, helping families develop good nutritional and daily oral health habits are key to preventing dental disease. Dentists can access colorful, age-appropriate materials developed by the Ad Council’s Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign online at 2min2x.adcouncil.org.  The Ad Council’s oral health literacy toolkit contains oral health fact sheets, posters, videos and graphics that can be easily downloaded for display in offices or posting on social media. The Toothsavers brushing game, a mobile app, is also available for downloading. For more information, visit 2min2x.org.

The Ad Council and the Partnership launched the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign in 2012 for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives — a coalition of 36 dental organizations, including CDA, which is a key member of the executive council that has overseen the development of the research-based messages.

Through the third quarter of 2014, Kids’ Healthy Mouths public service announcements has received more than $64 million in donated media nationwide and the 2min2x.org website has been visited 1.7 million times.

Additionally, cda.org provides dental disease prevention resources online, including easy-to-download and print oral health fact sheets, and dental disease prevention tips for pregnant women and new mothers.

Information can also be found on cdafoundation.org.