If your latest trip to the dentist’s office was a good one, you’re not alone. New research shows fewer kids are getting cavities, which is great. Unfortunately, it’s not good news for everyone, as kids of color and those from low-income families are not faring as well.

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control study, American kids have fewer cavities now overall than in previous years. From 2015 – 2016, on average 43 percent of kids ages 2 to 19 had cavities, which was down 7 percent from the rate in 2011. That decrease doesn’t register with all U.S. kids, however. Hispanic kids showed the highest rate of cavities at 52 percent, while kids from low-income families had much higher rates than those from wealthy families.

The study also showed that 13 percent of kids on average had cavities that had gone untreated, which was again connected most significantly to kids of color and those with lower socioeconomic status, whose rate of untreated cavities was more than double of those kids from higher-income families. Lower income families have less access to proper care, both because of costs and proximity to dental care providers, which could account for the disparity.

While it’s not clear from the study why cavities have gone down overall, the rate of cavities among the youngest kids, ages 2 to 5, were the lowest indicating that campaigns urging kids to visit the dentist at a younger age than before may be leading to better preventative care.

“We’re making progress, but there’s still work to be done,” said lead researcher Dr. Eleanor Fleming, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Have your kids ever had a cavity? Share your thoughts in the comments.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Pixabay


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