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Poverty, Weight and Ethnicity Impact Children’s Dental Health

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that one out of every five child between the ages of two and five have untreated dental problems including infection, cavities and tooth decay. Although every tooth is at risk of developing dental issues, the teeth of some children are more vulnerable than others.

Tooth decay among children is thought to be a scourge that if left unchecked, will negatively impact the future of the nation. The condition is typically kicked off by an excess of dental plaque, which can cause a myriad of health issues and dental problems including tooth loss and gum disease. Some children are more vulnerable to the dental problems than others.

Children From Low-Income Families

Rumor has it that money cannot buy happiness, but it certainly can fund the dental treatments needed to ensure dental health. Unfortunately, due to financial limitations, offspring of the less affluent families stand a greater chance of getting tooth disease.

Children in poverty have more than twice as many cavities as compared to their wealthier counterparts and half of those infections are left untreated because of financial restraints. The lack of money for visiting a dentist is only the tip of the iceberg that fuels the unfortunate trend.

Aside from not being able to afford dental care, the less affluent have unhealthy diets filled with sugar and fat (both are fodder for oral bacteria), may be unable to buy basic oral hygiene tools such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss and may not get the proper education needed in regards to oral health.

Extra Weight=Extra Dental Problems

Americans are the most obese citizens of all industrialized nations and reports have indicated that childhood obesity rates have tripled over the last 30-years (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/07/eveningnews/main6069163.shtml). As the nation’s children grow fatter, their oral health is declining as a result.

Research conducted by the Endocrine Society has found that 28 percent of children with tooth decay also had an excess of body weight. The study analyzed 65 children aged two to five and focused on the the connection between unhealthy body weight and dental health. Children with hearty body mass indexes (BMI) had more dental problems than their slender counterparts.

Ethinicy=Declining Dental Health

America is a great melting pot filled with people of all ethnicity and origin, however those who have routes tracing back to Mexico or African have higher levels of cavities and dental problems. Data collected from 2001-2004 and presented by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that for children aged 2 to 5 year age, 24.2 percent of black children and 29.2 percent of Hispanic children (of Mexican origin) had untreated tooth decay. White children had significantly lower levels measuring at 14.5 percent. A similar balance was also present in adolescents aged 6-19.

A survey conducted by the University of California also backs up those numbers. Around 9,000 individuals of Mexican-American decent participated in the study and the findings showed that kids of Latin decent are more at risk for childhood tooth decay.

Caregivers must intervene in order to curb the growing tooth-decay tragedy facing the nation. Teaching children the proper brushing and flossing techniques, providing them fresh water to drink (as opposed to soft drinks), encouraging physical fitness and eating a balanced diet following the recommended government Nutrition Plate guidelines can go a long way to improving dental health.

Regular dentist visits are also a must as studies have shown that for every $1 spend on preventative dentistry, $8 to $50 is saved in restorative treatments. Caregivers looking for a great family dentist or kid’s dentist to start improving the oral health of their children can get a great dentist by calling 0900-DENTIST.

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