Compared to just a few years back, U.S. kids have fewer cavities or “dental caries” today.” Nevertheless, dental caries is still the top chronic disease among 6-19 year-olds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015-2016 kids far fewer cavities than kids had four years earlier. The CDC researchers found a decline in total caries prevalence from 50.0% in 2011–2012 to 43.1% in 2015–2016.
In addition, the prevalence of untreated caries is trending downward. For untreated caries, the CDC found that although the prevalence increased from 16.1% in 2011–2012 to 18.0% in 2013–2014, it then decreased to 13.0% in 2015–2016.
The prevalence of caries, both treated and untreated, was lowest among kids 2–5 years of age.
The CDC monitors the prevalence of treated and untreated caries as part of their work to help prevent and control oral diseases. The organization published these findings in April. The data is part of a continuing study of Americans’ health and nutrition habits.
Income disparities, however, persist
In spite of these improvements, oral health disparities continue to exist.
The researchers found the highest prevalence of cavities, 52 percent, was among Hispanic youth. Non-Hispanic black youth had the highest prevalence of untreated dental caries: about 17 percent. By comparison, fewer than 12 percent of white kids and 10.5 percent of Asian kids had untreated caries.
In addition, lower-income kids had much higher cavity rates than wealthier ones. In fact, as family income levels increased, the prevalence of dental caries decreased. Researchers found the lowest prevalence of dental caries, whether treated or untreated, was in children from families that had incomes in excess of 300% of the federal poverty level.
What’s behind these changes?
Why has the prevalence of caries declined? According to the report’s author, it is not possible to tell whether changes in habits or better access to dental care could explain the decline.
Reporting on the CDC’s findings, WebMD interviewed Dr. Rosie Roldan at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Dr. Roldan, who directs pediatric dentistry, was not involved in the study.
“It’s encouraging to see this decline happening,” said Dr. Roldan, who pointed out that “the youngest children in the study — those ages 2 to 5 — had the lowest rates of cavities and untreated cavities.” She suggested this could “be related to a push in recent years to get young children to the dentist,” WebMD reported.
Read next: Why Generation Z Might Go On to Have the Healthiest Teeth to Date
Fleming E, Afful J. Prevalence of total and untreated dental caries among youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 307. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
Most people want an attractive smile. It is usually the first thing that someone notices. Following a solid dental care routine that is filled with brushing and flossing is important. However, drinking water plays a key role in preserving your teeth, and it brings many oral health benefits.
Keep Stains Away
Certain foods and beverages, including coffee, wine, and berries, cause discoloration of your tooth enamel. Staining can dampen your smile and cause your pearly whites to look dingy.
Regular hydration helps dilute the items so that they do not cause a negative reaction in your mouth. When you consume anything that leads to staining, it is advised to drink and rinse with water so that your mouth is properly flushed.
Water is a helpful tool that keeps sugars and acids from harming your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, they turn into acids that eat at your enamel and cause cavities.
For example, when you eat a candy bar or a similar sweet treat, follow it with a glass of water. This is not a replacement for brushing your teeth, but it is a good way to eliminate acids that can have a devastating effect on your oral health.
Freshen Your Breath
Nothing is worse than the embarrassment of bad breath. When you are kissing your sweetheart or are in the middle of a meeting with an important client, the last thing you want to do is to worry about your breath.
When your mouth is dry, anaerobic bacteria is produced. This is common when you first wake up. If you frequently drink water throughout the day, your mouth stays moist, and the environment where bacteria thrives is eliminated. Also, this helps to get rid of leftover food that becomes trapped in the crevices of your mouth. This means that there is nothing for bacteria to feed upon.
Celebrate National Drink Water Week
May 7, 2017 kicks off “Drinking Water Week.” Most people know how the body needs to stay hydrated, but few comprehend the positive effects that it brings to your oral health.
After learning how water benefits you mouth, you will want to incorporate it into your daily activities. It is an easy way to keep your smile looking as beautiful as possible.
Read Next: Oral Health and Pot Use Concerns
You’ve probably already heard that you should go to the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health. A reliable rule of thumb is to go twice per year. However, you may not have been told about the full benefits of regular cleanings and checkups. To help you understand the importance of taking the time to schedule an appointment, here are some of the biggest reasons why doing so is a good idea.
Improving Your Confidence
Have you ever had bad breath? Of course you have! Everyone gets it. But if you don’t see your dental health professional and get your mouth cleaned occasionally, it could get much worse. Dentists can also help you keep your teeth bright and white. Many everyday products we consume, such as coffee or tea, can leave stains on them. At the dentist’s office you can get them whitened and polished, eliminating those unsightly stains and giving you a more attractive and confident-looking smile.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults, and most adults will face gum disease at some point in their lives. One of your biggest oral health goals, therefore, should be taking efforts to prevent and minimize this problem. Regular checkups will help you do that. Your
dentist has special tools that check to see if your gums are still healthy. If there’s a problem, he or she will tell you how best to fix it before it costs you your smile.
Over time, tiny food particles in your mouth convert to plaque, an acidic substance that clings to and slowly eats away your teeth. Regular flossing and brushing can help slow this process, but they can’t prevent it entirely. Over time, these cavities get worse and worse until they begin to cause you tremendous pain. A tooth isn’t like skin; it won’t regenerate to repair itself. Therefore, if you let the cavity get bad enough, you’ll lose it.
Fortunately, oral health professionals always check for cavities in their earliest stages. They use x-rays and other medical equipment to find them before they start to hurt you or cause irreplaceable damage. When cavities are in their early stages, repairing them is no problem. You’ll also get a good cleaning at every checkup, which prevents the buildup of plaque and lowers the likelihood that you’ll get cavities in the future.
Preventing Oral Cancer and Other Life-Threatening Conditions
Oral cancer is a deadly serious problem. Experts estimate that nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it every year, and nearly 10,000 will die from it. Almost half of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years of their diagnosis.
The Oral Cancer Foundation notes that this high mortality rate is mainly caused by the fact that oral cancer is usually detected at a very late stage. It can be hard to detect early because the symptoms are relatively mild at first.
Fortunately, dentists know how to recognize the signs of cancer early and will be able to detect it during a routine check-up. But that’s not all. Getting your mouth checked by a doctor has other major health benefits.
Dental check-ups have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, as well. Seeing your oral health-care professional regularly, therefore, could do more than save your teeth. It could also save your life.