Local News

N.C. Survey Aims To Improve State Of Children's Dental Health

Posted February 13, 2004

— Do your children brush and floss their teeth? State dental health leaders want to know and are traveling from school to school to find out.

It is the first survey of its kind to be conducted in 15 years and should provide data with teeth.

Dr. Jean Spratt is one of the dentists visiting 400 classrooms throughout the state.

"I love it and the children are super," Spratt said.

The students in kindergarten through 12th grade represent a scientific sample. The information gathered will give state oral health leaders a picture of the condition of children's teeth.

Data will be compared from surveys conducted every 10 to 15 years, going back to the early 1960s.

"We're the only state in the country to have good quality information like this," Spratt said.

Spratt and other dentists participating in the survey will identify the number of fillings, cavities and sealants each child has. They will also note tooth appearance, dental trauma and orthodontic treatment.

Children who need dental help are referred to local dentists.

"We're also evaluating our state prevention programs, our dental prevention programs, to see if we're using our limited resources the best way," said Rebecca King, N.C. Oral Health section chief.

The state promotes dental sealants to prevent cavities, but the greatest change in dental health over the last 15 to 30 years is in the water we drink.

"If we had to pick one single thing that's had an impact on improving dental health, it would be fluoridated water," King said.

The last survey in 1987 showed 20 percent of the state's children had 80 percent of the dental disease, usually because of poverty.

"We still have a lot of work to do with those kids," Spratt said.

Although the water in city systems and most community wells is fluoridated, bottled water is not regulated and may not contain fluoride.

Check the label or contact the manufacturer to see if your favorite brand has fluoride.

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