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American Dental Association

Why do poor kids get more cavities?

Why do poor kids get more cavities?

Despite decades of community water fluoridation, fluoride toothpaste use, improvements in nutrition and hygiene education, dental caries — also known as cavities — remain the most common childhood disease in America. They lead to pain, infections, nutritional deficits, lack of sleep, poor concentration, slower physical growth and a loss of about a dozen school hours per child.

Families with incomes below the federal poverty line — often families of color — experience twice the incidence of dental caries compared with higher earning families. Part of the problem is that they're not receiving the treatment they need. A quarter...