Article - Oral Health Painful, Costly, and Preventable

Oral Health Preventing Cavities, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss

 

Oral Health Problems:  Painful, Costly, and Preventable


Mouth and throat diseases, which range from cavities to cancer, cause pain and disability for millions of Americans. This fact is disturbing because almost all oral diseases can be prevented.

For children, cavities are a common problem that begins at an early age. Tooth decay affects more than one-fifth of U.S. children aged 2–4, half of those aged 6–8, and nearly 60% of those aged 15. Low-income children are hardest hit: about one-third have untreated decay. Untreated cavities may cause pain, dysfunction, absence from school, underweight, and poor appearance—problems that can greatly reduce a child’s capacity to succeed in life.

Tooth decay is also a problem for U.S. adults, especially for the increasing number of older adults who have retained most of their teeth. Despite this increase in tooth retention, tooth loss remains a problem among older adults. One fourth of adults over age 60 have lost all of their teeth, primarily because of tooth decay, which affects 95% of all adults, and advanced gum disease, which affects about 1 in 4 adults. Tooth loss has more than cosmetic effects—it may contribute to nutrition problems by limiting the types of food that a person can eat.

In addition, oral cancers pose a threat to the health of American adults. Each year, about 28,000 people learn that they have mouth and throat cancers, and nearly 7,200 die of these diseases.

Courtesy of National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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