Dental caries is a public health crisis!

Consider the following statistics:

  • 37% in primary teeth (Ages 2-8)
  • 21% in permanent teeth (Ages 6-11)
  • 58% in adolescents (Ages 12-19)
  • 35% of 3-year-olds from low income families
  • Up to 50% of all low-income children
  • Up to 70% among Native American children

Dental care access is influenced by ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For example, untreated dental caries in primary teeth among children ages 2–8 is 2x the rate for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children compared with non-Hispanic white children.

In 2016, prevalence decreased across all socioeconomic groups.

Many cases of dental caries are undiagnosed, usually because parents or caregivers do not seek dental care at an early age for their children. Clinicians can play a major role in preventing caries and initiating early treatment.

                       Joanna Douglass, BDS, DDS


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2019.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Oral health in America. A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health; 2000. 

B.A. Dye, S. Tan and V. Smith et al., Trends in oral health status: United States, 1988–1994 and 1999–2004. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Health Stat 11 (2007), p. 248.

Jackson SL, Vann WF Jr, Kotch JB, Pahel BT, Lee JY. Impact of poor oral health on children's school attendance and performance. Am J Public Health. 2011; 101(10):1900-6

NCHS Data Brief, Number 191, March 2015, Dental Caries and Sealant Prevalence in Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011–2012.