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CDC: Minorities still most at risk for caries

April 19, 2018 Fewer young people in the U.S. reportedly have dental caries, but minority children continue to have higher rates when compared to their peers, according to a data brief the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in April.

The prevalence of caries declined from 50 percent in 2012 to a little over 43 percent in 2016 among young people in the U.S. aged between 2-19, according to the data, which is taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Hispanic youth had the highest report of total and untreated caries (52 percent) compared with black (44.3 percent), Asian (42.6 percent) and white youth (39 percent.) However, untreated cavities were highest among black youth (17.1 percent), followed by Hispanic (13.5 percent), white (11.7 percent) and Asian youth (10.5 percent.)

Prevalence of caries increased with age, from 17.7 percent among youth aged 2-5 to 45.2 percent those 6-11 and 53.5 percent among those 12-19.

The CDC also noted how income level affects the prevalence of caries. As family income levels increased, the prevalence of total dental caries decreased, from 51.8 percent for youth from families living below federal poverty to 34.2 percent for kids from families with income levels greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Untreated cavities decreased from 18.6 percent for kids from families living below the federal poverty level to 7 percent for those with families with incomes greater than 300 percent of the poverty level. In 2016, $24,300 in annual income was considered the poverty guideline for a family of 4, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To read the full CDC report, visit the website.

Find ADA resources on caries, including information about risk assessment and management, on ADA.org.