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Spring-Summer 2000
Vol. 62, No. 3

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Notes on Research Next Story


After years of decline, cavity rates may be inching upward again, according to Ronald Billings, professor of dentistry.

He has presented evidence that the cavity rate among 10-year-old children in Rochester is on the rise slightly. For his study, Billings drew on data collected by the Eastman Dental Center over the last three decades in collaboration with the Monroe County Health Department, which has funded the surveys.

Billings and other researchers noted a significant decrease in the cavity rate among children during the 1970s and through the early 1980s.

Since then, the decline has flattened, and the researchers' latest results show a slight increase in the rate of cavities. The most recent survey shows an average of three cavities per 10-year-old child, up from two per child in the late 1980s.

The cavity rate among children is more than a matter of a little pain and inconvenience.

"Cavities beget cavities," says Billings. "People at risk for tooth decay remain at risk for as long as they have teeth. Cavities early in life set in motion a never-ending process of drilling and filling." About one in four children has a serious problem with cavities.

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