Oral Health

Oral Health


The authors evaluated racial/ethnic differences and their socioeconomic determinants in the oral health status of U.S. , as reported by parents.


The authors used interview data from the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health, a large representative survey of U.S. . They calculated weighted, nationally representative prevalence estimates for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics, and they used logistic regression to explore the association between parents’ reports of fair or poor oral health and various socioeconomic determinants of oral health.


The results showed significant racial/ethnic differences in parental reports of fair or poor oral health, with prevalences of 6.5 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 12.0 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and 23.4 percent for Hispanics. (poverty level and education) partially explained these racial/ethnic disparities, Hispanics as likely as non-Hispanic whites to report their children’s oral health as fair or poor, independent of socioeconomic status. The authors did find differences in preventive-care attitudes among groups. However, in multivariate models, such differences did not explain the disparities.


Significant racial/ethnic disparities exist in parental reports of their children’s oral health, with Hispanics being the most disadvantaged group. Disparities appear to exist of preventive-care attitudes and socioeconomic status.


Data from the Arizona Healthy Smiles Healthy Bodies Survey

  • More than half of Arizona’s kindergarten children (52%) have a history of tooth decay, higher than the national average for 5 year old children (36%).
  • Almost two-of-three third grade children (64%) have a history of tooth decay, compared to 52% of third grade children in the general U.S. .
  • More than a quarter of Arizona’s kindergarten and third grade children (28%) have untreated tooth decay; slightly higher than the national average of 22%.
  • About 44% of Arizona’s third grade children have at least one dental sealant on a permanent molar tooth; higher than the prevalence among the general U.S. (32%).
  • Some oral health disparities still exist in Arizona with children attending lower-income schools and American Indian and Hispanic children having the highest prevalence of decay experience and untreated tooth decay.
  • Arizona has been successful in efforts to address disparities in the prevalence of dental sealants.

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