Health department: Many Connecticut residents at risk for poor oral health

Many Connecticut residents are at risk for poor oral health, according to oral health data collected by the state Department of Public Health. Today, according to a press release, the department presented the data at the Legislative Office Building.

Based on recent public health survey data, many children in Connecticut do not get the dental
care they need, according to the state’s Dental Director, Linda Ferraro. “Dental decay continues
to be a significant problem for Connecticut’s children,” Ferraro said in a press release. “Almost 60 percent of children in
Connecticut do not have dental sealants, a well-accepted clinical intervention to prevent tooth
decay in molar teeth, and by the third grade 40 percent of Connecticut children have experienced
dental decay.”

Ferraro also noted the significant oral health disparities that exist among Connecticut children
and adults, with minority and low-income children having the highest level of dental disease.

Nearly half of adults living in households with annual incomes below $15,000 report not seeing a
dentist in the previous year, a sharp contrast to adults in higher income households.

Untreated tooth decay is also a significant problem for many vulnerable adults in Connecticut,
particularly those living in long-term care facilities. Over one-half of long-term care facility
residents with teeth had untreated tooth decay, Ferraro said.

These findings are based on a recent Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System telephone health
survey conducted by the Department of Public Health each year, and Every Smile Counts 2011, a
statewide oral health survey of over 9,000 preschool and elementary school children. Preliminary
data was also obtained from an oral health survey of vulnerable older adults in Connecticut
during 2012.

Amanda Cuda