Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tooth Trouble

There are two ways to determine the health status of Americans. You can ask them and hear their hopes and dreams (as happens when people are asked about their weight or how much they drink). Or you can examine them and get the facts. The federal government does both.

Most are familiar with the government's surveys about health. Few are familiar with its mobile examination centers that set up shop at various locations throughout the country and physically weigh and measure a representative sample of the population. From those physical examinations, we know that 21.5 percent of the population has cavities--untreated dental caries (the technical term for it) in their mouth. As you might suspect, the percentage of the population with cavities varies greatly by demographic characteristic, with people aged 20 to 44 (25.1 percent), men (24.6 percent), and the poor (35.8 percent) most likely to have cavities.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Selected Oral Health Indicators in the United States, 2005-2008

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