Dental Tribune USA

Millions to fight early childhood caries

By Corinna Kaarlela, UCSF
January 01, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA: The University of California’s School of Dentistry in San Francisco has received a multimillion-dollar grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), to address disparities in children’s oral health and to launch new programmes in preventing early childhood tooth decay, also called ECC.

According to the School’s Dean, Dr John Featherstone, the programmes will include new research that will compare methods of preventing dental caries in children and efforts to integrate current scientific understanding across a variety of primary care and social service settings.

The School will also work as coordinating centre, collecting data from randomised trials from two other centres in Boston and Denver.

Dental caries is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States, and disparities in oral health are evident across the life span. A report by the US National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center states that although more than 90 per cent of general dentists in the US provide care to children and adolescents, very few provide care to children under four. Among children and adolescents from families with low incomes, nearly 80 per cent of decayed primary teeth have not been restored in children between the ages of two and five.

Disparities also exist according to race and ethnicity, with decayed or filled teeth occurring in 42 per cent of Mexican American and 32 per cent of black children between the ages of two and five, compared with 24 per cent of white children, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.

(Edited by Claudia Salwiczek)

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