Survey shows Wash. oral health successes, challenges

The rate of caries among children in Washington state in 2010 remains as high as it was in 2005, but untreated decay is at an all-time low, according to a Smile Survey, conducted by the Washington State Department of Health's Oral Health Program.

The rates for the application of sealants have remained the same since 2005, the study found, but a significant increase in sealants was found among children from racial and ethnic minorities from 2005 to 2010.

During the 2009-2010 school year, low-income preschoolers from 48 Head Start-Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) sites, along with kindergarteners and third-graders from 53 public elementary schools, were surveyed.

Results from about 7,500 children show Washington has had some success in children's oral health, but the following challenges remain:

  • Children from low-income families were more likely to have more decay, rampant decay, and treatment needs than those from families with higher incomes. Following income, Spanish-speaking families were the next highest predictors for having more decay and treatment needs.

  • Rates of untreated decay were at their lowest ever for Head Start-ECEAP preschoolers and public school third-graders in 2010.

  • Sealant rates didn't change overall from 2005 to 2010, but rose significantly for children from racial and ethnic minority groups, especially among Spanish-speaking families.

  • Washington still has statistically significantly higher rates of decay for preschoolers and third-graders compared with the national Healthy People 2020 Objectives. However, the state met national objectives for untreated decay and sealant rates.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend water fluoridation and school sealant programs as effective, evidence-based preventive measures that are able to reach all children, regardless of income level. But such measures still aren't used to the greatest extent possible in Washington, the study found. More than half of Washington school-age children don't have sealants and many don't have access to fluoridated water.

The survey is conducted every five years to monitor children's oral health.

Page 1 of 206
Next Page