(KCPW News) Newly released data from the Utah Department of Health shows the dental health of Utah children in first through third grade is improving a bit. Dr. Steven J. Steed, State Dental Director, says the percentage of kids who had experienced dental decay fell from 55 percent in 2005 to 51 percent in 2010.
“And even more dramatic were those that had obvious untreated decay, where there were active cavities that had not been filled, went from 21 percent to 17 percent,” he says. “We found some good improvement in those areas and we’re very happy to see that.”
More than 3,000 children from six to nine years old received dental screenings to compile the report, which you can read here.
Despite the improvement, Dr. Steed calls it very troubling that two percent of children who were screened were experiencing extensive tooth decay, infections or pain.
“It affects their schoolwork, it affects their learning, it affects their ability to participate. It also has some long-term effects on their adult life if these issues are not addressed and taken care of,” says Steed.
The health department estimates that based on the data, more than 2,600 Utah children in that age range need to see a dentist for immediate treatment. 22 percent of parents surveyed for the report said their child didn’t have dental insurance, and non-white children were nearly twice more likely to lack treatment than white children.