Facts About Tooth Decay

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Facts About Tooth Decay


Did you know that pediatric dental disease, also referred to as childhood tooth decay, is the #1 chronic childhood illness? When left untreated, childhood tooth decay can have devastating consequences that extend beyond the dental chair. Rampant decay can negatively impact a child’s overall quality of life, inhibit their cognitive and social development and compromise their growth, function, and self-esteem.

  • Pediatric dental disease is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.
  • Left untreated, pediatric dental disease can lead to malnourishment, bacterial infections, required emergency surgery and even death.
  • Pain and infection caused by tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning.
  • Dental disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, poor pregnancy outcomes and dementia.

The Good News? Tooth Decay is Preventable!

A Children’s Oral Health Crisis
In the U.S. alone,

  • Dental care is the most prevalent unmet health need of children in the United States
  • An estimated 17 million children in America go without dental care each year
  • More than 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental disease, leading to increased educational disparities and decreased productivity
  • Approximately 43% of America’s lack dental insurance, including more than 20 million children, almost 3 times the population lack medical coverage
  • For every $1 spent on oral health preventive measures, American taxpayers are saved as much as $50 in restorative and emergency procedures for the under and uninsured
  • Only 1.5% of 1 year olds have had a dental office visit compared with 89% who have had an office-based visit with their physician
  • 52% of new recruits have oral health problems needing urgent attention that would delay overseas deployment
  • More than 25% of children aged 2-5 years and 50% of those aged 12-15 years suffer from tooth decay

A Global Problem

Oral health services in many countries are limited.


  • Dental decay is the most common childhood disease worldwide.
  • Tooth decay is still a major problem in most industrialized countries, affecting 60-90% of school children and a majority of adults.
  • Access to oral health services in developing countries is limited, and teeth are often left untreated or are extracted due to pain.
  • Dental disease is the fourth most expensive disease to treat in most industrialized countries.

Source: America’s Tooth Fairy

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Communications Manager for QueensCare Health Centers

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