End Dental Disease in Children

Oral Health 2020 Goal: Eradicate dental disease in children.

Tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children aged 2–5 years. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD, State of Little Teeth) reports that the rate of tooth decay in the baby teeth of children aged 2 to 5 increased almost 17% from the period 1988-1994 to 1999-2004. By the age of 3 years, almost 1 in every 10 U.S. children has oral health issues.

Children from low income and minority families are particularly vulnerable because they are less likely to have their oral health addressed. An estimated 17 million low income children in the United States go without oral health care each year. This represents about one out of every five children. (Pew Center on States, Cost of Decay)

The good news is that tooth decay is preventable. White middle and higher income children generally are doing well. Children from low income and minority families generally fare much worse. It is important to not only raise the average of children who do not experience decay but to also focus on closing gaps in oral disease rates.

Oral health in young children should be addressed in multiple ways by multiple providers and community resources. Pediatricians, dentists, nurses, community health workers, teachers, promotores, and extended families play a very important role in making a child’s teeth a priority by providing education to parents and caregivers, screenings and anticipatory guidance, community connections, and access to preventive information and services, prenatally and beyond.

Oral Health 2020 Target: WIth the closing of disparity gaps, 85% of children reach age 5 without a cavity.