Study by Delta Dental finds preventive dental care for children lacking

Nov. 13, 2013

A landmark study of more than 90 million claims recently conducted by Delta Dental, the nation’s largest dental benefits provider, found that even insured children are not getting the proper amount of preventive dental care.

Delta Dental’s Preventive Dental Care Study found that more than a third of children ages 6-18 are at higher risk for tooth decay. Of those children…

· More than 70 percent are not receiving two fluoride treatments a year
· More than 60 percent ages 6-9 did not receive sealants on their first molars
· Not even one out of five of those children ages 11-15 received sealants on their second molars

According to the American Dental Association,1,2 children at higher risk for tooth decay, which includes any child with recent fillings, should receive at least two fluoride treatments per year, along with sealants on their first and second permanent molars. Findings from the study will be used to educate individual consumers, parents, and employers about the importance of evidence-based prevention in dentistry. The findings will also help inform dental care providers about missed opportunities to provide needed care to those children and adults that need preventive services.

RELATED:The U.S. isn't doing enough to prevent tooth decay, says Pew report

In general, a person’s risk for dental disease is influenced by a combination of diet, personal habits, and genetics. Cavity history is also a key indicator of future risk for decay. Delta Dental has tools to assist you in assessing your risk and learning about oral health. MyDentalScore is an online risk assessment survey that asks a number of lifestyle and health questions in order to estimate your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer, which you can use to discuss your oral health needs with your dentist. Delta Dental also provides an Oral Health Library at This newly-refreshed site offers a comprehensive library of oral health articles to answer any oral health question.

RELATED:Delta Dental debuts myDentalScore

“Delta Dental is dedicated to improving oral health, and providing preventive services is a high priority,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental’s vice president for dental science and policy. “It is particularly important for children and adults at higher risk for dental disease to fully utilize the preventive dental benefits available to them.”

Though employers ultimately decide the level of benefits offered to their employees, Delta Dental encourages all employers to provide a dental benefits plan that covers sealants and two fluoride treatments annually for children (per the aforementioned ADA guidelines). With these findings, we are identifying ways to create plan designs and educational materials on the importance of oral health, with hopes that it will lead more patients who need care to dental offices and encourage increased use of evidence-based preventive care.

Of course, children aren’t the only ones at higher risk. Adults with periodontal disease can benefit from additional dental cleanings or maintenance appointments in order to maintain and control gum disease, but the Preventive Dental Care Study found that half of higher-risk adults did not get the recommended care.

Ultimately, Delta Dental recommends that you consult with your dentist to determine the best course of oral health treatment for you and your family. For more information about the Preventive Dental Care Study, please visit our website at

RELATED:Inaugural 'National Brush Day' encourages parents to keep kids' mouths healthy by brushing for two minutes, twice a day

For more information about Delta Dental, go to


1 Professionally applied topical fluoride: Evidence-based clinical recommendations. American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. JADA, Vol. 137. August 2006.

2 Evidence-based clinical recommendations for the use of pit-and-fissure sealants. A report of the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. JADA, Vol. 139. March 2008.