Oral Health Data & Facts

The Oral Health of American Indian and Alaska Native Adult Dental Patients: Results of the 2015 IHS Oral Health Survey

The 2015 IHS Oral Health Survey is the fourth look at the oral health status of AI/AN adult dental patients served by IHS and Tribal clinics. Previous surveys were conducted in 1984, 1991, and 1999. For the 2015 Oral Health Survey, the IHS collected data from 11,462 dental patients ranging in age from 35 to 103 years. This data brief focuses on the oral health of adult dental patients. It presents information on the prevalence of dental caries, severe periodontal disease, and tooth loss, and assesses trends over time.

KEY FINDINGS
1. AI/AN adult dental patients suffer disproportionately from untreated dental caries, with twice the prevalence of untreated caries as the general U.S. population and more than any other racial/ethnic group.
2. AI/AN adult dental patients are more likely to have severe periodontal disease than the general U.S. population.
3. Compared to the general U.S. population, AI/AN adult dental patients are more likely to have missing teeth.
4. Compared to the general U.S. population, AI/AN adult dental patients are more likely to report poor oral health, oral pain, and food avoidance because of oral problems.
5. Since 1999, the oral health of AI/AN adult dental patients has improved. Fewer have untreated decay, the prevalence of severe periodontal disease has decreased, and more adults are keeping their teeth into older age.

Read more IHS Data Brief – March 2016 – 2016 Oral Health Survey of AIAN Adults 35+

Arizona Department of Health Services Data Brief 2015:

Good oral health is important to a child’s social, physical and mental development. Even though tooth decay can be prevented, most children in Arizona still get cavities. To assess the current oral health status of Arizona’s elementary school children, the Arizona Department of Health Services, with support from First Things First, coordinated a statewide oral health survey of kindergarten and third grade children attending Arizona’s public schools.

Key Findings:

  • 75.5% of American Indian Kindergarten children surveyed in Arizona have tooth decay experience. 45.4% have untreated tooth decay in their primary and permanent teeth.
  • 86.4% of American Indian 3rd Grade children surveyed have tooth decay experience. 57.2% have untreated tooth decay in their primary and permanent teeth.
  • 27.7% of the American Indian children surveyed had dental sealants applied to their teeth.

Read more Healthy Smiles Healthy Bodies Data Brief 2015


The Oral Health of American Indian and Alaska Native Children Aged 1-5 Years: Results of the 2015 IHS Oral Health Survey, April 2015

Tooth decay is a major health problem for American Indian and Alaska children. When compared to other population groups in the United States, AI/AN preschool children have the highest level of tooth decay; more than 4 times higher than white non-Hispanic children.1 The reasons why AI/AN children have more tooth decay are not known but it may be partially due to differences in host, bacterial, behavioral, sociodemographic, and environmental risk factors. If left untreated tooth decay can have serious consequences.

KEY FINDINGS

1. Tooth decay continues to be a significant health problem for American Indian and Alaska Native preschool children.

2. American Indian and Alaska Native children continue to have more tooth decay than other populations in the United States.

3. Early prevention, before the age of two, is essential to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay in American Indian and Alaska Native children.

4. Many American Indian and Alaska Native preschool children are not receiving the dental care they need.

5. Dental sealants on primary molars may be underutilized.

Read more IHS Data Brief 1-5 Year Old


The Oral Health of 6-9 Year Old American Indian and Alaska Native Children Compared to the General U.S. Population and Healthy People 2020 Targets

Good oral health is important to a child’s social, physical and mental development. Even though tooth decay can be prevented, most American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children still get cavities. To assess the current oral health status of AI/AN elementary school children, the Indian Health Service (IHS) coordinated a nationwide oral health survey of AI/AN children in kindergarten, first, second and third grade.

  • Data from the Indian Health Service Oral Health Survey of AI/AN Elementary School Children, 2011-2012
  • Eight out of 10 (83%) AI/AN children between 6-9 years of age had a history of decay in their primary or permanent teeth, compared to 45% of children in the general U.S. population. The Healthy People (HP) 2020 target is 49%.
  • Almost half of 6-9 year-old AI/AN children (47%) had untreated decay. This compares to 17% of 6- 9 year-old children in the general U.S. population and a HP 2020 target of 26%.
  • More than 4 out of 10 AI/AN children (42%) had at least one dental sealant on a permanent tooth; higher than the prevalence among the general U.S. population and higher than the HP 2020 target (32% and 28% respectively).

Read more Data_Brief_IHS_6-9_Year_Olds


The Oral Health of 13-15 Year Old American Indian and Alaska Native Children Compared to the General U.S. Population and Healthy People 2020 Targets

Good oral health is important to an adolescent’s social, physical and mental health. Even though tooth decay can be prevented, most American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) adolescents still get cavities. To assess the oral health status of AI/AN adolescents aged 13-15 years, the Indian Health Service (IHS) coordinated a nationwide oral health survey of AI/AN dental clinic patients and AI/AN students in 7th, 8th and 9th grade

Key Findings:

  • Eight out of 10 AI/AN dental clinic patients (80%) and two out of 3 AI/AN students (66%) between 13-15 years of age had a history of decay in their permanent teeth, compared to 44% of adolescents in the general U.S. population. The Healthy People (HP) 2020 target is 48%.
  • Over half of 13-15 year-old AI/AN dental clinic patients (53%) had untreated decay while 38% of the AI/AN students had untreated decay. This compares to 11% of 13-15 year-olds in the general U.S. population and a HP 2020 target of 15%.
  • More than 6 out of 10 AI/AN dental clinic patients and students aged 13-15 years (66% and 62% respectively) had at least one dental sealant on a permanent molar; higher than the prevalence among the general U.S. population and higher than the HP 2020 target (51% and 22% respectively)Read more Data Brief IHS Adolescent 2014

Indian Health Service: Arizona (Phoenix Area) Basic Screening Survey Results- 2010, 2011

0-5 Year Old Children

  • 57% have tooth decay experience on average
  • 36% have untreated decay
  • 4% have an urgent need for dental care – pain or active infection – Swelling, fever
  • Children in the Phoenix Area have, on average, almost 4 teeth with decay experience

Caries Status Children 0-5

Site                                       % W/ Decay                     % with untreated        Mean # teeth/Decay
Colorado River                     48.7                                   26.1                               2.87
Keams Canyon                    79.5                                   60.9                               7.23
Phoenix                                56.7                                   35.7                               3.30
San Carlos                            69.1                                   54.9                               5.02
Phoenix Area Total               56.7                                   35.7                               3.69
IHS Total                               54.1                                   38.5                               3.50
USA (White)                                                                                                            1.1

6-9 Year Old Children

  • 96% have experienced tooth decay
  • 51% have untreated decay
  • 58% have dental sealants on a permanent molar

Indian Health Service Oral Health Survey Report for 2010:

Tooth decay in children is one of the major health problems in the United States – especially among low income and minority populations. If left untreated, tooth decay can affect a child’s growth, result in signficant pain and potentially life-threatening infection, and can diminish a child’s overall quality of life.

Tooth decay occurring in children 0-5 years of age is referred to as early childhood caries (ECC). Due to their young age, treatment of preschool children with ECC is oen provided in a hospital-based operating room under general anesthesia; the cost of treatment can be enormous and the risk to the child can be substantial. e good news is that tooth decay is largely preventable through early risk assessment and comprehensive prevention strategies at the individual, community and dental practice level. 

The 2010 IHS Oral Health Survey of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Preschool Children is the rst look by the Indian Health Service (IHS) at the oral health status of a community-based sample of AI/AN preschool children. Almost 8,500 AI/AN children aged 1-5 years were screened at 63 different Tribal and IHS sites across the country. The five key findings from the survey highlight the significance of tooth decay in AI/AN children and the disparities that continue to exist between the U.S. population as a whole and AI/AN children.

Key Findings:

  • More than 36% of the 1-5 year old children screened had a need for dental care, with about 6% needing urgent dental care because of pain or infection.
  • More than 20% of 1-year old AI/AN children already have decayed teeth and the percentage with decay rises significantly with age (See Table 4, below)Percent of AIAN Children Screened with Tooth Decay by Age 2010

Access Report: IHS Oral Health Report 2010


Symposium on Early Childhood Caries in American Indian and Alaska Native Children-Panel Report 2009

Early childhood caries (ECC) is a chronic disease that has a relatively low prevalence and minimal morbidity among most populations of U.S. children. By contrast, in many American Indian and Alaskan Native communities the prevalence of ECC is extremely high–approximately 400 percent higher than the U.S. all races.

A former IHS pediatrician described the severity of ECC as being a different disease” from ECC among most other U.S. population groups. Among reported differences are:

  • ECC in AI/AN children has a very early onset(often by 18 months of age)
  • ECC follows an aggressive and destructive course in many AI/AN children
  • ECC in AI/AN children has been largely refractory to interventions effective in other populations

Facts on Native American Children and Oral Health Care

Native American Children Experience Oral Health Disparities Right from the start, American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) children experience more cavities and less treatment than other US children. The odds of AI/AN preschoolers having tooth decay is 5 times greater than for US preschoolers generally and these children have 3 times more decayed teeth than their peers. By third grade, almost all AI/AN children (91%) have experienced tooth decay and 72% have unfilled cavities. Among primary-school children, AI/AN children continue to experience higher disease rates; they have four times the number of untreated caries as their peers (46% versus 11%).

CDHP_Fact_Sheet