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Tooth decay (children)

Untreated or treated tooth decay by:

Untreated tooth decay by:

Treatment urgency

Treated tooth decay (restored or filled)


Tooth decay is largely preventable

Tooth decay is largely preventable, yet it is one of the most common chronic diseases among children ages 6 to 19 years.  It can lead to pain, infections, and difficulty eating and sleeping—all of which can affect school performance.  

In 2015, the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program led an open mouth assessment of caries experience and dental sealants in third grade students in Minnesota public schools (see About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade)).

Caries experience is a measure of past and present tooth decay defined as the presence of either untreated or treated (restored or filled) tooth decay.  Caries is the disease that causes tooth decay and can lead to cavities in teeth.


Minnesota Hispanic third graders have higher rates of tooth decay

Minnesota third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay) by race and ethnicity, 2015

Race and ethnicity Percent third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay) 95% Confidence Interval

White, non-Hispanic

47.0%

42.6 to 51.4

Non-White, non-Hispanic

51.9%

43.3 to 60.6

Hispanic

65.8%

59.5 to 72.1

Bars represent the percentage of unduplicated third graders within racial and ethnic groups. Caries experience is a measure of past and present tooth decay defined as the presence of either untreated or treated (restored or filled) tooth decay. Sample size = 3,199 third grade students within a stratified probability sample of 50 public schools. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade) for more information.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. Basic Screening Survey.

Hispanic third graders in public schools were 1.4 times more likely to have caries experience compared to White, non-Hispanic third graders in public schools (66 percent versus 47 percent).


Minnesota third graders enrolled in rural public schools are more likely to have tooth decay

Minnesota third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay) by rural and urban school location, 2015

School location Percent third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay) 95% Confidence Interval
Rural 56.2% 51.5 to 61.0
Urban 44.3% 39.2 to 49.5

Bars represent the percentage of unduplicated third graders within rural or urban public schools. Caries experience is a measure of past and present tooth decay defined as the presence of either untreated or treated (restored or filled) tooth decay. Sample size = 3,199 third grade students within a stratified probability sample of 50 public schools. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade) for more information.

Data source: Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. Basic Screening Survey. 

Third graders enrolled in rural public schools were 1.3 times more likely to have caries experience compared to third graders enrolled in urban public schools (56 percent versus 44 percent).  


Minnesota third graders have higher rates of untreated or treated tooth decay in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (lower income households)

Minnesota third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay) by free and reduced price lunch eligibility, 2015

Free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility subcategories

Percent third grade public school students with caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay)

95% Confidence Interval

Low (25.0% or less FRPL) — higher income families

39.8%

32.4 to 47.2

Mid-low (25.1 to 50% FRPL)

51.1%

45.2 to 56.0

Mid-high (50.1 to 75% FRPL)

55.7%

50.8 to 60.7

High (more than 75% FRPL) — lower income families

62.6%

52.2 to 72.9

Free and reduced price lunch eligibility is a common alternative measure for the percentage of children within public schools from lower income households. Bars represent the percentage of unduplicated third graders within free and reduced price lunch eligibility categories. National Center for Education Statistics definition (FRPL eligibility subcategory)

  • Low: 25.0 percent or less students are FRPL eligible.
  • Mid-low: 25.1 to 50.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.
  • Mid-high: 50.1 to 75.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.
  • High: more than 75.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.

Caries experience is a measure of past and present tooth decay defined as the presence of either untreated or treated (restored or filled) tooth decay.

Sample size = 3,199 third grade students within a stratified probability sample of 50 public schools. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade) for more information.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. Basic Screening Survey. 

Free and reduced price lunch eligibility is a common alternative measure for the percentage of children within public schools from lower income households:

  • 63 percent of third grade students in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility have untreated or treated tooth decay.
  • 40 percent of third grade students in public schools with low free and reduced price lunch eligibility have untreated or treated tooth decay.  

In 2015, students enrolled in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (lower income households) were 1.6 times more likely to have caries experience compared to third graders in public schools with low free and reduced price lunch eligibility (higher income households).


Minnesota third graders in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (lower income households) have higher rates of untreated tooth decay

Minnesota third grade public school students with untreated tooth decay by free and reduced price lunch eligibility, 2015

Free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility subcategories

Percent third grade public school students with untreated tooth decay

95% Confidence Interval

Low (25.0% or less FRPL) — higher income families

8.9%

5.8 to 11.9

Mid-low (25.1 to 50% FRPL)

17.9%

15.3 to 20.4

Mid-high (50.1 to 75% FRPL)

20.3%

14.4 to 26.1

High (more than 75% FRPL) — lower income families

29.7%

25.8 to 33.5

Free and reduced price lunch eligibility is a common alternative measure for the percentage of children within public schools from lower income households. Bars represent the percentage of unduplicated third graders within free and reduced price lunch eligibility categories. National Center for Education Statistics definition (FRPL eligibility subcategory)

  • Low: 25.0 percent or less students are FRPL eligible.
  • Mid-low: 25.1 to 50.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.
  • Mid-high: 50.1 to 75.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.
  • High: more than 75.0 percent of students are FRPL eligible.
Untreated tooth decay is current tooth decay or cavity.

Sample size = 3,199 third grade students within a stratified probability sample of 50 public schools. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade) for more information.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. Basic Screening Survey. 

Free and reduced price lunch eligibility is a common alternative measure for the percentage of children within public schools from lower income households:

  • 30 percent of third grade students in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility have untreated tooth decay.
  • 9 percent of third grade students in public schools with low free and reduced price lunch eligibility have untreated tooth decay. 

In 2015, students enrolled in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (lower income households) were 3.3 times more likely to have untreated tooth decay compared to third graders in public schools with low free and reduced price lunch eligibility (higher income households).   


Half of Minnesota third graders currently have or have had tooth decay

In 2015, caries experience was 50 percent or roughly 5 out of every 10 third graders. The United States median (1998 to 2015) was 55 percent or nearly 6 out of every 10 third graders.

5 out of every 10
Minnesota third graders (49.5%)

Have caries experience (untreated or treated tooth decay)
2015


2 out of 10 Minnesota third graders have untreated tooth decay

In 2015, 17 percent or nearly 2 out of every 10 third graders had untreated tooth decay.  The United States median (1998-2015) was 20 percent or 2 out of every 10 third graders.

2 out of every 10
Minnesota third graders (16.6%)

Have untreated tooth decay
2015

 


2 out of 10 Minnesota third graders have an early or urgent dental treatment need

Dental treatment urgency among Minnesota third grade public school students, 2015

Treatment urgency Percent third grade public school students with dental treatment urgency 95% Confidence Interval

Total (early or urgent care)

16.6%

1.9 to 16.5

Early care

14.0%

11.4 to 16.5

Urgent care

2.6%

1.9 to 3.4

Bars represent the percentage of unduplicated third graders within treatment urgency classifications.

Treatment urgency refers to how soon a person should visit the dentist for clinical diagnosis and any necessary treatment. Treatment urgency has three classifications. None: patient has no obvious pain, infection, or swelling. Follow regular dental checkup. Early care: patient has untreated tooth decay, but no pain, infection, or swelling. Seek dental care within several weeks. Urgent care: patient has untreated tooth decay and pain, infection, or swelling. Seek dental care as soon as possible.

Sample size = 3,199 third grade students within a stratified probability sample of 50 public schools. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey (third grade) for more information.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. Basic Screening Survey. 

Treatment urgency refers to how soon a person should visit the dentist for clinical diagnosis and any necessary treatment.  Treatment urgency has three classifications:

  • None: Patient has no obvious pain, infection, or swelling.  Follow regular dental checkup schedule. 
  • Early care: Patient has untreated tooth decay, but no pain, infection, or swelling.  Seek dental care within several weeks.
  • Urgent care: Patient has untreated tooth decay and pain, infection, or swelling.  Seek dental care as soon as possible.

In 2015, 17 percent of third grade students had an early or urgent dental care need.


4 out of 10 Minnesota third graders have treated tooth decay

In 2015, 41 percent or 4 out of every 10 third graders had treated tooth decay (restored or filled).

4 out of every 10
Minnesota third graders (41.3%)

Have treated tooth decay (restored or filled)
2015 

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