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Toothache Found in 11 Percent of U.S. Children

Variability across income and racial status notable; most with toothache have primary care doctor

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Toothache occurs in about 11 percent of U.S. children, at disproportionately higher rates in minorities, low-income children, and those with special needs; most children, however, see doctors who could address oral health issues, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Charlotte Lewis, M.D., and James Stout, M.D., of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, analyzed a nationally representative cohort of 86,730 children 1 to 17 years of age to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for toothache and to estimate how often children with toothache see their pediatric primary care providers (PPCPs).

The researchers found incidence of toothache in 10.7 percent of all children, and in 14 percent of those 6 to 12 years of age. Prevalence was significantly higher in poor and low-income minority and special needs children. The researchers found that 88.9 percent of those with toothache in the last six months had their own doctor, and 88.1 percent had seen a doctor for a preventive visit in the last year.

"Toothache is not the universal experience it was before the advent of modern dentistry. Nevertheless, a substantial number of U.S. children recently had a toothache, with noteworthy variability between states. There are opportunities for PPCP[s] 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," the authors write.

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