Approximately 64 percent of Americans visit the dentist each year, with an estimated 60 billion dollars currently being spent on dental services, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Yet, many children and adults needlessly suffer from oral diseases that could be prevented. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 29,370 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and pharyngeal cancers in 2005, resulting in an estimated 7,320 deaths - many of which could have been prevented.
Early Childhood Caries (cavities) has been reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to be the most prevalent infectious and chronic disease of our nation’s children. Early childhood cavities occur in all racial and socioeconomic groups. It is an epidemic in low-income households. Tooth decay may affect a child’s speech, nutritional health, self-esteem and social development.
In Orange County, the dental health of our children is actually worse than the rest of the State of California. Thirty five percent of kindergarteners are in need of dental care including urgent care, as compared to less than 20% of California kindergartners. This was found in the 12th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County which was completed in 2006. Of the children under five years of age, 54% had never been to a dentist and 33% have untreated dental decay; again, higher than the California state average. In children six to seventeen years of age, 26% had never been to the dentist.
Yet, with proper preventive care, such as regular check-ups, brushing, flossing, fluoridation, and dental sealants, the risk of dental disease can greatly be reduced.