Oral Health Has Improved in U.S.
Fewer Kids Have Cavities in Permanent Teeth; Less Tooth Loss in Seniors
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 25, 2005 -- America's oral health report card is better than a decade ago, according to the CDC and National Institutes of Health.
- Fewer cavities in kids' and teens' permanent teeth
- Less tooth loss in older adults
- More use of dental sealants to protect kids' and teens' teeth
The findings are based on national health surveys done in 1988-1994 and 1999-2002. The results appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"The good news is that efforts to reduce and prevent cavities and dental disease are paying off. We are seeing an increase in the number of children, teens, and adults who have never had a cavity in their permanent teeth," says William Maas, DDS, MPH, in a news release. He directs the CDC's division of oral health.
"It's also very encouraging to find the dental health of children in lower-income areas improved," says Maas, crediting school programs that promote tooth brushing and dental sealants.
However, "more effort is needed to improve the oral health of low-income Americans," says Bruce Philstrom, DDS, in the news release. He is the acting director of the clinical research and health promotion division of the National Institute of Dental and Cranofacial Research.
Cavities Down, Dental Sealants Up
The report shows a 15% drop in cavities in the permanent teeth of kids aged 6-19.
Nearly half of all kids in that age range had had a cavity (49%) in the earlier survey, compared with 42% in the later study. There was no change in cavity rates for kids' baby teeth.
The use of dental sealants rose 64% for kids aged 6-19 between the two surveys. Dental sealants are used to smooth over pits and fissures in teeth.
In 1999-2002, dental sealants had been used on about 32% of U.S. kids, compared with nearly 20% in the earlier study.
More Seniors Keeping Their Teeth
A quarter of adults aged 60 or older had lost all of their teeth in 1999-2002. That's down 20% from the earlier study, when 31% of adults in that age group had lost all of their teeth.