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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2020

Oral Health—Dental Visits

Dental caries (i.e., cavities) is one of the most common diseases of childhood.29 Oral health care is essential for treatment of dental caries and to safeguard oral health.30 Regular dental visits provide an opportunity for prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of oral and craniofacial diseases and conditions. Routine dental visits are recommended beginning at age 1.31

Figure 9: Percentage of children ages 5–17 with a dental visit in the past year by metropolitan status, 2018
Percentage of children ages 5–17 with a dental visit in the past year by metropolitan status, 2018

NOTE: Children were identified as having a dental visit in the past year by asking parents, "About how long has it been since your child last saw a dentist?" Parents were directed to include all types of dentists, such as orthodontists, oral surgeons, and all other dental specialists, as well as dental hygienists. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget classifies counties as within a metropolitan or a micropolitan statistical area. The remaining counties are not classified and are considered rural in this report. Rural counties may include small urban areas, as well as completely rural areas. Nonmetropolitan counties include counties in micropolitan statistical and rural areas.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.

  • In 2018, 91% of children ages 5–17 had a dental visit in the past year.
  • The percentage of children ages 5–17 with a dental visit in the past year was 91% for children living in metropolitan counties, 88% for children living in micropolitan counties, and 90% for children living in rural counties. There was no statistically significant difference in dental visits in the past year by metropolitan status.

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29 Dye, B. A., Li, X., & Thornton-Evans, G. (2012). Oral health disparities as determined by selected Healthy People 2020 oral health objectives for the United States, 2009–2010 (NCHS Data Brief, No. 104). Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

30 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Oral Health. (2019). Children's oral health [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html

31 Segura, A., Boulter, S., Clark, M., Gereige, R., Krol, D. M., Mouradian, W., . . . & Keels, M. A. (2014). Maintaining and improving the oral health of young children. Pediatrics, 134(6), 1224–1229.