Although dental caries has been declining in permanent teeth for many children since the 1960s, previous findings showed caries in primary teeth for preschool children increasing from 24% to 28% between 1988 and 2004. Disparities in caries continue to persist for some race and ethnic groups in the United States. Prevalence of dental sealants—applied to the tooth chewing surfaces to help prevent caries—has also varied among sociodemographic groups.
A new NCHS report describes U.S. youth dental caries and sealant prevalence by race and Hispanic origin for 2011–2012.
Key Findings from the Report:
- Approximately 23% 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% of Hispanic children had any dental caries in permanent teeth compared with nearly 18% of non-Hispanic white and Asian children.
- About three in five adolescents aged 12–19 had experienced dental caries in permanent teeth, and 15% had untreated tooth decay.
- Dental sealants were more prevalent for non-Hispanic white children (44%) compared with non-Hispanic black and Asian children (31% each) aged 6–11.