Kids and Cavities Still Go Together

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a remarkable study based on the most recent evidence available of tooth decay in children. Despite tooth sealants, better toothpastes, electric toothbrushes and an increased number of people with dental insurance, cavities are remarkably prevalent in the teeth of U.S. children.

About a fourth of all children ages 2–5 have had at least one cavity. Then the numbers rise sharply with age — nearly 60% of kids 6–8 had at least one cavity in a baby tooth, and 20% had an untreated cavity. The results are based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey conducted in 2011 and 2012 across the United States.


The number of children ages 6–11 with cavities in permanent teeth was just under 22%. But as with baby teeth, the numbers get worse with age. About 60% of children 12–19 have had cavities in permanent teeth, and nearly 20% of those ages 16–19 have at least one untreated cavity.

Fewer than a third of children ages 6–8 years have sealants on their teeth, but half of those 9–11 years have sealants. About 43% of children 12–19 have sealants.

Numbers of cavities for black and Hispanic children were significantly higher in all categories — often 50% higher than for white children.

Perhaps the solution for kid cavities is just better brushing — and Oral-B, the toothbrush company, is hot on that solution. They have developed a smart mirror that works with their electric toothbrush. As a child brushes, a story reveals itself on the mirror. If all goes well, the child gets to watch the animation play out. But if the brushing isn’t going so well, a monster appears to stop the story. Scary.

To a bright future,

Stephen Petranek
for Seven Figure Publishing

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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His...

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