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JADA: Caries experience in permanent teeth in older kids unchanged in last decade

July 28, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

While the oral health status of young children has improved in the previous decade, older children and adolescents' oral health has changed little, according to research published in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Researchers, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 through 2004 and from 2011 through 2014, found that the percentage of children age 8 and younger with untreated caries has declined significantly over the last decade. They also found that the prevalence of caries in permanent teeth in older children and adolescents remains unchanged.

"This clearly suggests that younger children are receiving more dental care but there has been little improvement in preventing caries initiation," said Dr. Bruce Dye, lead author of the article and dental epidemiology officer at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

"One bright area observed," Dr. Dye noted, "was for preschoolers living in families below the federal poverty level. Not only did more of these children have no untreated caries, but more of them were caries-free, indicating that in this young age group, more of them were receiving dental care and more of them were not experiencing tooth decay compared to similar children in the previous decade."

One takeaway from the findings, Dr. Dye said, is that, "Although it is laudable that more younger children are receiving dental treatment for caries, what we really would like to see is more children remaining caries-free through childhood."

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Other highlights of the August issue include a systematic review and meta-analysis addressing the effectiveness of treatments for medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw; a look at oral health literacy and associated oral conditions; and a take on using antibiotic prophylaxis before dental procedures to prevent infective endocarditis.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at in advance of the print publication.