Toothache more common among minority and special needs children

Nov 01, 2010

Poor, minority and special needs children are more likely to be affected by toothache, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Toothache is a source of chronic and often severe pain that interferes with a child's ability to play, eat and pay attention in school," the authors write as background information in the study. The authors also note that "the most common cause of toothache is dental decay" and the "process of dental decay is one that optimally would be prevented or, at the very least, identified early and then arrested through provision of regular professional dental care. However, for some U.S. children, including those who are Medicaid-insured, access to preventive and restorative dental care is more difficult."

Charlotte Lewis, M.D., M.P.H., and James Stout, M.D., M.P.H., both of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, studied data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for toothache in children. Data were collected from a population-based sample of the parents/guardians of 86,730 children between ages 1 and 17, from 50 states and the District of Columbia. Based on the population represented by the sample, the authors found that approximately 10.7 percent of U.S. children had experienced a toothache in the previous six months. Toothache was most common in children between the ages of 6 and 12, with one in seven affected by toothache in the past six months.

The authors also found that 58 percent of children who had a toothache also reported cavities within the past six months. Additionally, even when controlling for insurance and poverty status, black and multiracial children had significantly higher odds of having experienced a toothache than white children. Poor children had the highest prevalence of toothache, and Medicaid-insured children were more likely to be affected than uninsured or privately insured children. Children with special health care needs were found to have a significantly higher prevalence of toothache when compared to children without special needs, while functionally limited special needs children had had even higher rates of toothache.

"The prevalence of toothache, particularly among vulnerable groups who disproportionately experience it, serves to reinforce the importance of physician involvement in oral health and of efforts to better evaluate and improve our nation's oral health and dental care system," the authors conclude. "Optimally, our nation's health care system would include equitable and universal dental care access so that all Americans could obtain preventive oral health care as well as timely diagnosis and treatment of dental disease."

"There are opportunities for pediatric primary care providers to address oral health prevention, assess for dental decay and toothache and treat complications. We propose toothache as a potential quality indicator reflecting disparities in oral health for a population."

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164[11]:1059-1063

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Simple push filling wins crown in battle against tooth decay

Dec 20, 2007

The Hall Technique, which uses preformed metal crowns pushed onto teeth with no dental injections or drilling, is favoured over traditional “drill and fill” methods by the majority of children who received it, reveals ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

10 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

17 hours ago

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...