Dental caries (tooth decay) remains the most prevalent chronic disease in children, even though it is largely preventable. Caries has decreased over the past four decades, though disparities remain among some population groups. Of special concern is the fact that this downward trend has recently reversed for young children.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that protect the chewing surfaces of children’s back teeth from tooth decay. Overall, the prevalence of sealants in children’s teeth has increased since the early 1970s, though significant disparities remain in some population groups.
One way to measure access to dental care is to ask people when they last visited a dentist. In children, this measure has improved in recent years, although disparities remain among some population groups.