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Dental caries in early childhood: a growing public health issue

Cawley, Dylan (2013) Dental caries in early childhood: a growing public health issue. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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The percent of young children with dental caries in the United States has increased to levels that make it a major public health problem. Approximately a quarter of children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old have experienced dental caries in the United States, but these numbers vary greatly among groups, especially among those who are of a low socioeconomic status or in a minority. Dental pain as a result from dental caries has impacts on the child’s quality of life. They may have physical problems, e.g. failure to thrive or vitamin deficiencies, emotional problems, e.g. easily irritated, or social problems, e.g. missing school or day care. Dental caries can be caused by many environmental and biological factors working together, such as diet, oral health behaviors, microorganisms of the oral cavity, and genetic predisposition, and ongoing research is beginning to reveal the possible mechanisms underlying some of these relationships. Treatment can be costly and is not readily available in all areas. If caries are not prevented and treatment is not procured, the financial burden increases and the child’s long term health outcome worsens. Prevention techniques can be started in the home by practicing good oral health and avoiding sugary foods and beverages, especially before bed or during the night. Topical applications to improve the strength of the enamel, such as fluoride, reduce risk. Regular evaluations of oral health are important, but due to a lack of dental professionals that are trained to work with children, this is not always available. Some programs are training and incentivizing professionals to work with this population to increase coverage. With better accessibility to dental care and more research into the causes behind tooth decay in young children, the public health problem of early childhood caries can be alleviated.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Cawley, Dylan
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKammerer, Candacecmk3@pitt.eduCMK3UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberNeiswanger, Katherineknacct@pitt.eduKNACCTUNSPECIFIED
Date: April 2013
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Public Health Genetics
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 07 May 2015 13:17
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2022 10:55


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