The American Dental Association (ADA) recently announced that preliminary data collected shows improvement in the early childhood caries rate across the United States, indicating progress in closing the dental divide and ensuring that all kids are getting the dental care they need. According to a recent Dental Tribune article, dental Medicaid visits have been increasing and less tooth decay is going untreated. ADA President, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, stated that “we must stay the course, building on that momentum to continue making an impact for children, and expand efforts to prevent dental disease before it starts.”
The data used to draw the conclusion was collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) longitudinal health data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC’s Dr. Bruce Dye, suggested that while the analysis used only data from 2011-2012, a clear shift in untreated dental disease in the U.S. for 2 to 5-year-olds is prevalent with a trend of increased treatment of caries in preschool kids. The full range of data, covering 2011 through 2014, is expected next year.
But just because the numbers are looking favorable, doesn’t mean it’s time to sit on our heels. The ADA’s Action for Dental Health has dentists around the nation delivering dental health education and disease prevention to communities, providing care to people suffering from untreated oral disease, and fighting for better dental health protections under Medicaid. Also, the Association’s Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs) are assisting individuals connect to dental public health resources and dentists who are able to provide them with care. “Dental access, prevention and care initiatives are making a positive difference in dental health for patients and the ADA is committed to continuing to support and promote increased alignment of efforts and partnering to better fuel the momentum,” Feinberg stated. It just goes to show that by working together and educating the public, the battle against oral disease can be won, especially when it starts with the children.