Federal health authorities have reported a decline in the number of cavities seen among preschool-age children, in addition to a report of fewer children having untreated dental decay.
The age group has not seen this sort of decline since 2007 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted a tremendous increase in the percentage of baby teeth showing tooth decay.
Dr. Bruce Dye, the lead author of the last two CDC reports concerning oral hygiene, reported only 10% of young children showing signs of untreated tooth decay. “This is the lowest percentage we have seen in the past 25 years,” he added.
While the study only covers the past two years and is not considered “statistically significant,” Dr. Dye said they represent a promising trend. The previous report used data covering five years.
Acids in the mouth dissolving the outer layer of teeth causes tooth decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities, gum disease and abscesses.
Studies have shown that tooth decay can lead to severe pain, infections, time off from school or work, and problems concerning childhood growth.
Health experts were pleased with the results, as toddlers who show large amounts of decay need to be treated using general anesthesia in an operating room. However, others feel the results do not show enough and that it is merely a dip in the long history of the cavity, writes Catherine Saint Louis for The New York Times.
The study discovered that between 2011 and 2012, 23% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have cavities in comparison to 28% between 1999 and 2004.
“It’s encouraging to see a five-point reduction among kids 2 to 5,” said Patrice Pascual, the executive director of the Children’s Dental Health Project, a nonprofit group, though nearly a quarter of young children still had an “infection that puts them at risk for having holes in their teeth.”
Professor Wagner Marcenes of Queen Mary University of London, who performed an analysis of 378 studies pertaining to 4.7 million people between 1990 and 2010, found that 2.4 billion people across the world have untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth and that around 621 million children also suffer from tooth decay.
Wagner believes the main cause of this decay to be from diet and the consumption of high levels of sugary foods and beverages in addition to excess snacking.
Statistics from 2010 show 30% of the population in the UK to suffer from tooth decay. In other countries such as Lithuania, the statistic is much higher, resulting in as much as double the number of people who suffer from the issue.
Prevention starts with regular tooth brushing, a healthy diet and consuming less sugary snacks along with regular dentist visits.