The number of children in Maryland with untreated tooth decay dropped 41 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to a new state report.
The assessment of children in kindergarten and third grade was conducted by the University of Maryland School of Dentistry on behalf of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Oral Health.
The overall oral health status of Maryland children improved over the last decade, the report found. Researchers said the improvement came after reforms adopted when a 12-year-old from Prince George's County child died because of a preventable tooth infection.
Tooth decay is the most chronic disease suffered by children, but is 100 percent preventable and treatable.
The state exceeded targets set by the federal government to improve rates of untreated decay, dental sealants and dental caries, the assessment found.
The state assessment included a look at 1,723 students in 52 schools from the five regions of the state. It included a questionnaire sent to parents that looked at the child's access to dental services. Screenings were also done. A report was then sent to parents with the child’s screening results.
About 33 percent of the school children had at least one dental sealant on their permanenet first molars, which exceeded federal goals by 5 percent.
About 14 percent had untreated dental caries, a drop from 23 percent in 2000 to 2001. This exceeded federal goals by 12 percent.
Seventy-five percent of the children had a regular dentist.