Hispanic-American Families Faced with Prevalence of Tooth Decay

The importance of the proper practices for optimal dental health and hygiene are common knowledge to many in the U.S. and around the world. For such individuals, brushing their teeth twice a day, flossing, using antibacterial mouthwashes or rinses on a regular basis and seeing a local dentist for a checkup every six months is second nature – behaviors so intuitive that they become almost instinctual.

However, for an alarming number of people, these habits are not necessarily habits at all, particularly when regular dental exams are concerned. All too often, this stems from an unfortunate lack of resources to gain the proper information, a lack of the money to pay for dental care out-of-pocket, ineligibility for dental insuranceor some combination thereof.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), tooth decay, also referred to as dental caries or simply cavities, is unfortunately most prevalent in the low-income, African-American and Hispanic-American populations of the U.S. children aged 2 to 19. This group constitutes a majority of the 23 percent of children of that age with untreated tooth decay.

The San Antonio Express-News recently reported on the extreme prevalence of such decay among Mexican-American youngsters. According to the news source, a staggering 40 percent of these children aged 6 to 8 have unaddressed dental caries, while one in every five of the adolescents aged 12 to 19 in this ethnic group are similarly afflicted.

To address this troubling frequency of dental issues among the Mexican-American population in its state, the Texas Department of State Health Services is emphasizing awareness of proper oral health maintenance.

According to the news source, one of the common early-childhood solutions used to curb the development of dental caries that is promoted by the organization is the application of dental sealants. NIDCR data states that 30 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 38 percent of teens ages 12 to 19 have sealants applied. In the Hispanic population of the U.S., only about 24 and 27 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 12 to 19, respectively, have such sealants.

Before sealants can be applied, children should be taken to a dentist as early as their first birthday. They should avoid consuming excess sugar or sharing utensils, cups, toothbrushes or pacifiers to minimize the spread of caries.

There are resources that can help, such as www.PlanesDentales.com, which features search tools for Hispanic individuals and families in the U.S. to easily find alternatives to dental insurance, locate a nearby dentist participating in discount dental plans and maintain their oral health.

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