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Kids at Higher Risk of Cavities Skipping Needed Preventive Treatments

Posted on January 20, 2016 in Children’s Oral Health


Delta Dental Study of 97 Million Claims Details Many of Nation's Children Not Taking Crucial Preventive Measures

A Japanese-American boy smiles while camping in an alpine environment campground.A landmark study of more than 97 million dental claims, conducted by Delta Dental Plans Association, found about two-thirds of children who are at higher risk of developing cavities aren't getting recommended preventive dental care.1

Delta Dental's Preventive Dental Care Study found that more than a fourth of children ages 6-18 in Illinois are at higher risk for tooth decay. Of those children:

  • More than 74 percent of Illinois children 6-18 did not receive two fluoride treatments a year.
  • More than 62 percent of Illinois children ages 6-9 did not receive sealants on their first permanent molars.
  • More than 84 percent of Illinois children ages 10-14 did not receive sealants on their second permanent molars.

According to the American Dental Association, children at higher risk for tooth decay, which includes any child who has had a cavity filled in the past three years, should receive at least two fluoride treatments per year, along with sealants on their first and second permanent molars. Such treatments are commonly fully-covered benefits.

In addition, among all children included in the 2014 study, 27 percent of children ages 3 to 18 didn't visit the dentist at all, and 75 percent of children under age 3 didn't visit the dentist. The study also showed that nearly 30 percent of adults aged 19 or older with a higher risk for tooth decay did not have a dental exam in 2014.

“Delta Dental is committed to improving the nation's oral health, and that means focusing on the very young to ensure they get a good start and are practicing a life-long approach to taking care of a crucial component of their overall health: their teeth,” said Dr. Katina Spadoni, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. “Dental diseases like tooth decay and gum disease are preventable, so it is very important for children and adults at higher risk for dental disease to fully utilize the preventive dental benefits available to them.”

The risk of developing dental disease is related to personal and professional dental care, diet and genetics. Visit the Delta Dental MyDental Score tool for an online risk assessment survey. MyDentalScore  asks a number of lifestyle and health questions in order to estimate an individual's risk of tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer, which members can use to discuss their oral health with their dentist.

Talk with your dentist about your oral health risks and routines and how you can make the best use of your dental benefits.

1Delta Dental of Illinois' Preventive Dental Care Study is an annual study that investigates whether higher-risk children and adults receive the preventive care they need. For the calendar year 2014, the study analyzed Delta Dental of Illinois dental claims from 2013