Kids taking better care of teeth

Efforts in Pierce County to take a bite out of bad teeth among kids is paying offThe Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported this month that its latest survey of oral health among children countywide Sshows tooth decay is down among young children.
That's part of an overall improvement in oral health that officials credit to a collaboration between schools and parents. All 15 of the school districts in the county offer the Health Department’s school-based oral health program. The outreach program allows dental care providers to to temporarily set up their equipment in any available rooms at schools and provide dental services to schoolchildren.
In 2016, the program served nearly 21,000 children. Bethel School District, with 716 students getting help, was one of the biggest users.
Officials said most of the students received dental sealants, which protect against 80 percent of tooth decay.
Poor dental health is an educational issue because it can cause schoolchildren to miss classtime. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common, yet preventable, chronic disease among children in the U.S.
“With the commitment of our schools, Pierce County kids and families continue to make huge strides in oral health, which is an important factor in a child’s overall health and performance in school,” said Sebrena Chambers, a Health Department official.
The Health Department survey in 2015 was compared to results from the previous survey in 2010. Findings include:
• A 7 percent drop in untreated tooth decay in 6 to 8-year-old to 11 percent.
• An increase in dental sealant on at least one permanent molar for the same age range (from 39 percent in 2010 to nearly 84 percent in 2015).
The latest statistics exceed national objectives for the proportion of children 6 to 9 years old who have tooth decay (49 percent; target was 46 percent), untreated tooth decay (26; target was 11 percent), and the use of ental sealant (84% pecent; target was 28 percent).
Officials said the results are encouraging but can be better. About half of 6 to 8year-olds have treated or untreated tooth decay, or both. And low-income, Hispanic and Asian-American children have less access to oral health services.


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