Tooth Decay Rates Remain Stable Among American Adults



Despite ongoing improvements in oral care, trends in tooth decay have remained relatively stable among adults 50 and older, reports the Duke University Medical Center and the University of Michigan.

The researchers analyzed data from the 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys and found the mean number of decayed teeth to be 0.54.

Males, non-Hispanic blacks, Mexican-Americans, and those of other races or ethnicities had more decayed teeth. So did those with fewer years of education and lower levels of income.

In fact, the researchers attributed the increased number of decayed teeth for Mexican-Americans and those of other races and ethnicities in part to their differing levels of education and income.

Trends throughout time did not vary by any demographic or socioeconomic characteristics. Also, trends in the number of decayed teeth did not meaningfully change when the numbers of missing and filled teeth were controlled.

The study, “Trends in Decayed Teeth among Middle-Aged and Older Adults in the United States: Socioeconomic Disparities Persist over Time,” was published by the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.

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