Study: 9 in 10 Adults Affected by Cavities, 1 in 4 Affected by Untreated Tooth Decay

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While our understanding, technology and capabilities when it comes to dental health have improved drastically over the years, there are still many adults in the US that are impacted by common dental health issues like cavities and untreated tooth decay. The reality is these kinds of issues are largely preventable.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 90% of US adults are affected by caries (cavities) and 1 in 4 are affected by untreated tooth decay. The study pointed to additional findings across various age demographics. Here are some of the key stats from the study:

  • The prevalence of untreated tooth decay in primary teeth was 10% among children aged 2–8 years which was a 10 percentage point decrease since 1999–2004.
  • The prevalence of untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth was 5% for children aged 6–11.
  • More than half of adolescents (ages 12-19) had cavities, and about 1 in 6 had untreated tooth decay.
  • Similar to 1999–2004, about 1 in 4 adults aged 20–64 years and 1 in 6 older adults aged 65 years or older had untreated tooth decay in 2011–2016.

The conclusion from the report is that although there are still many that suffer from cavities and tooth decay, overall, the findings show that there have been improvements among children and adolescents. The improvement comes in the form of a decrease in untreated tooth decay across a variety of sociodemographic groups.

These improvements among children are largely a function of increased dental insurance accessibility. According to the study:

Improvements in children’s oral health status likely reflect increased access to preventive and restorative care…A near-doubling of the percentage of children with public dental insurance from 1996 to 2015 resulted in a 15 percentage point increase to 88% in any dental coverage among all children.

While the findings show improvements among children, working-age and older adults experienced roughly the same rates of cavities and tooth decay, highlighting an area of opportunity.

With the right preventative approach to your dental health, you can better manage dental issues when they arise and work to keep them from happening in the first place. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but the foundation of any preventative dentistry approach includes the following:

  • Dental checkups and cleanings with a dentist every 6 months
  • Brushing twice daily
  • Regular flossing

In addition to the basics, a healthy diet and drinking a lot of water each day also helps keep your mouth healthy. If you haven’t been to the dentist in over six months or you have some untreated decay, it’s time to make an appointment. Contact us today.