A study of more than 97 million dental claims by the Delta Dental Plans Association shows that two thirds of children who are at higher risk of getting cavities aren’t getting recommended preventive dental care. According to the results, 27% of children through age 18 are at a higher risk of developing cavities, as measured by a history of recent fillings. Of those children:
- 65% did not receive 2 fluoride treatments per year.
- 68% of 6- to 9-year-olds didn’t receive sealants on their first permanent molars.
- 85% of those ages 10 to 14 didn’t receive sealants on their second permanent molars.
The ADA recommends children at higher risk of tooth decay receive 2 fluoride treatments a year as well as sealants on their first and second permanent molars. Such treatments are commonly fully covered benefits.
However, the children at higher risk of developing cavities aren’t the only ones who aren’t receiving preventative care. The study also shows that one quarter of children ages 3 to 18 didn’t visit the dentist at all, and those younger than 3 are the least likely to see the dentist. In fact, 71% of children under the age of 3 have never been to the dentist.
“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,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, vice president for dental science and policy at the Delta Dental Plans Association.
Delta Dental encourages employers to provide dental benefit plans that cover sealants and 2 fluoride treatments annually, per ADA guidelines. The company will use the study to educate consumers, parents, and employers about the importance of preventive care. Also, its MyDental Score online tool assesses its users’ risk of developing dental disease.