Minorities continue to have higher rates of dental disease
Personal dental care has become better in the United States, with more people than ever getting the dental treatment they need. Perhaps even more important is that young people are doing better, too, but the children of minority groups continue to do much poorer than in other ethnic groups.
In 2012, children (ages 2 to 19) were found to have caries (cavities) at a rate of 50 percent. Just four years later – 2016, it dropped to only 43 percent of children having cavities. The study was conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The group that had the most number of cavities that had not been treated was Hispanic, which was 52 percent of them. Black youth were next at 44.3 percent, followed by Asians at 42.6 percent. White youth were the lowest at 39 percent. As would be expected, the older the children, the more cavities they had.
The statistics also reveal that income levels have a part in who receives more dental care. Groups that are below the poverty level revealed that 18.6 percent of youth had untreated cavities and receive less dental care than groups who are more affluent – seven percent of them had cavities.
The Consequences of Tooth Decay
Cavities and poor oral health care can lead to a number of complications. While some may be rather minor, other complications can be quite serious – possibly even fatal.
The presence of cavities can cause a number of problems in children. When there is dental pain, the child will have a harder time listening in school, which could lead to academic and behavioral problems. The child may also have a more difficult time eating. This could lead to nutritional problems which could cause slower mental and physical development. Problems with speech can also occur.
A cavity can become a serious problem in some cases. If the cavity goes through the tooth and into the gums, it can become an abscessed tooth. Besides being painful, when this happens, the infection can spread to the brain and then it becomes a potentially fatal condition.
When a child loses a baby tooth, it can cause problems later on. Other teeth will tend to drift into space, causing there to not be enough room when the adult teeth come in. This will force teeth to become misaligned because of a lack of room. A dentist can place a spacer tooth to keep the alignment.
Other Oral Problems
Another potentially serious problem that comes with poor oral health is gum disease. This problem could have many serious consequences. It is largely caused by a lack of proper teeth care.
When the teeth are not brushed and flossed regularly, the bacteria in the mouth will multiply considerably. Over time, tartar will form at the gum line, giving the bacteria access to the gums. These bacteria produce acid when they come in contact with sugar, which can cause cavities and irritation of the gums.
As the bacteria and acid get into the gums, an immune reaction is started, but it soon becomes an autoimmune reaction. This is the more serious gum disease called periodontitis. It starts eroding the gums, the ligaments that support the teeth, and the jawbone. Over time, the teeth start to become loose and some may even fall out.
Researchers now believe that inflammation of the gums from periodontal disease is what causes many diseases. It leads to buildups within the blood vessels and organs. It is behind the development of such problems as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, several types of cancer, dementia, infertility, ED, and many more.
Home Treatment to Reduce Cavities
Teaching children to develop healthy dental habits begins in the home, but can be reinforced by a dentist. Parents need to ensure that their children brush their teeth twice a day. Using toothpaste with fluoride in it will help teeth to last longer. When they are able, they also need to learn to floss their teeth every day. This will immensely cut down on the number of cavities a child (or adult) develops. Children that have the worst cavities are between the ages of 2-4 and 6-8.
Eating healthy meals is also an important part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy. The nourishment is needed to enable teeth to fight off the acid that naturally forms in the mouth whenever you eat.
In addition to the above factors, certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce cavities. Quitting smoking is most important, reducing the daily sugar intake, and exercising, will all help ensure better dental health.
Dental Treatment for Children
When children go to the dentist, the dentist can eliminate the cavities with fillings. This will repair the teeth, enabling them to last much longer. In addition, the dentist has a couple of tools that can protect a child's teeth for a long time. There are two:
Fluoride treatment – this involves the application of fluoride to a tooth to help it resist cavities. Fluoride supplements may also be taken if the local water is not fluoridated.
Dental sealants – this plastic coating can be placed on the crowns of molars in order to protect them from bacteria and acid.
If you or your child have cavities and need dental services to keep their teeth longer, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you and the whole family develop healthy dental habits. His offices in Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX, can also help your children develop good oral health. Most dental health plans are accepted. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.