Caries stats in US a concern

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More than 9 in ten Americans over the age of 20 have had caries at some point.
More than 9 in ten Americans over the age of 20 have had caries at some point.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released statistics on the high prevalence of dental caries (cavities) among U.S. adults, and the numbers are sobering.  Ninety-one percent of Americans over 20 have had cavities at some point in their lives. Notably, the agency reports that 27 percent of adults over 20 have untreated caries.

“Despite all the advances in our ability to prevent, detect and treat dental disease, too many Americans—for a variety of reasons—are not enjoying the best possible oral health,” said American Dental Association President Dr. Maxine Feinberg.

Dr. Feinberg noted the substantially greater rates of untreated disease among African Americans (42 percent) and Hispanics (36 percent), saying, “The disproportionate rates of disease among some minorities is particularly disturbing and underscores the need for greater outreach to these underserved populations.”

According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, dental care utilization in 2012 was at its lowest level among working age adults since the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey began tracking dental care use in 1996. Adults who do not plan to visit a dentist in the next 12 months most frequently cite cost and the belief that they do not need dental care as reasons.

Responding to the continued need to improve the nation’s oral health, the American Dental Association in 2013 launched Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement to provide care now to people who already suffer from untreated disease, strengthen and expand the public/private safety net and increase dental health education and disease prevention.

Dr. Feinberg emphasized the American Dental Association’s belief that prevention is the ultimate answer to eliminating the vast majority of dental disease.

“We know that prevention works.  While it is critical to treat disease that has already occurred, the public health community needs to increase its focus on proven means of preventing it,” she said.  “Community water fluoridation, sealant programs for children, teaching people how to take care of their families’ teeth and gums, and getting the greatest possible number of children and adults into dental homes are the keys to better oral health for everyone.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Sucrose – that is the key to reducing tooth decay.
    Reduce the frequency of sucrose and you will reduce/eliminate decay.
    Fluoride, sealants, cleaning are all secondary
    Tooth decay is not a disease it is a behavioural condition – it is self inflicted
    The behaviour is related to the frequency of ingesting sucrose.
    It is a pity the words sucrose, sugar or diet were not mentioned in the article.

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