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The South Dakota Oral Health Survey 2010 report is now available. Volunteer dentists conducted dental screenings for 570 third graders in 30 randomly selected elementary schools in March and April of 2010 to check for the presence of decay, fillings, sealants, and the urgency of dental care.

The survey found that dental decay is a significant public health problem for South Dakota children:
• 62% of children screened had cavities and/or fillings (decay experience);
• 29% of children had untreated dental decay (cavities);
• 8% were in need of urgent dental care because of pain or infection;
• 55% of third graders had dental sealants applied to their teeth.

Children that visited the dentist in the last year had better oral health than those that did not visit a dentist in the last year.

The Healthy People 2010 objectives call for a reduction in the percent of children who have dental caries experience to 42% and a reduction in the percent of children with untreated dental decay to 21%. South Dakota has not met these objectives but has exceeded the Healthy People 2010 objective of 50% with dental sealants.

While there has been an increase in the number of children having dental sealants, the high number of children with a history of dental caries indicates that even with the preventive application of sealants, other measures such as oral health education, dietary changes, regular brushing and flossing, and regular dental visits are still needed to reduce the burden of tooth decay in children.

A limited number of hard copies are available upon request, and the report is accessible on the Oral Health Program website at http://doh.sd.gov/oralhealth. For more information, contact Julie Ellingson, Oral Health Coordinator, at (605) 773-7150.
Oral Health Survey Report
January 2011