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Good news from the dentist.

Good news from the dentist

Half of all American schoolchildren now have no decay in permanent teeth, continuing a remarkable decline in tooth decay first documented in 1980. In a study of almost 40,000 children this past school year, researchers at the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) also found 36 percent fewer cavities than in the previous survey. This decline leads NIDR Director Harald Loe to predict "the beginning of the end" for tooth decay.

The study showed that those U.S. children who do get cavities are getting fewer of them. Between 1980 and 1987 the average dropped from almost five decayed, missing or filled tooth surfaces to three, and those cavities that were found appeared mostly on rough tooth surfaces. This decay could be eliminated, dental officials say, by increased use of fluoride and adhesive sealant, a plastic film that dentists paint onto teeth.

The origins of this success story date to the early 1900s, when two dentists observed that residents of some western communities had permanently stained teeth; later study linked this to fluoride in their water supply. Eventually, smaller levels of fluoride were correlated with a reduction in tooth decay.

But the accomplishments announced last week could disappear, officials caution, if preventive efforts slacken. NIDR Chief Epidemiologist James P. Carlos cites three major factors behind the decline: fluoride in water, food and toothpaste; good dental habits; and high-level dental care. There is no evidence, he says, that dietary habits have changed.
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Title Annotation:survey shows improved dental health for American children
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 2, 1988
Words:247
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