Dental Caries (Tooth Decay)

Dental caries (tooth decay) remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, even though it is largely preventable. Although caries has significantly decreased for most Americans over the past four decades, disparities remain among some population groups. In addition, this downward trend has recently reversed for young children.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s. Click on the links below for details about trends in dental caries as well as detailed caries data from the most recent survey (1999-2004).


Last Reviewed on
February 2018