Most minority kids in Los Angeles lack dental care

By staff writers

May 9, 2011 -- More than 80% of poor, migrant, and minority children in Los Angeles need dental care, including 73% who have untreated dental caries, according to a new study.

Of the 2,313 children examined, some 53% had fillings or crowns, according to a study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (May 2011, Vol. 22:2, pp. 648-662). Asians were more likely to have untreated dental caries, followed by Hispanics and then African Americans.

Children whose parents lacked a high school diploma, who lived in homes where English was not spoken, and who were born abroad were at higher risk for having untreated dental cavities, the study found. Other risk factors were having a toothache in the last six months, inaccessible dental care, and no dental insurance.

More than half of the children had been to the dentist and had fillings, yet 72% needed care within two weeks and 9% needed care within 24 hours, according to lead author Roseann Mulligan, DDS, associate dean for community health and hospital affairs at the Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She added that it is not enough to repair the destruction caused by caries and more must be done to prevent the disease.

Underprivileged children in Los Angeles have twice as many dental caries as children nationwide, and 29% of the Los Angeles poor children with untreated caries had white spot lesions, the study authors noted.

Copyright © 2011

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