U.S. dentists face fewer cavities thanks to fluoride, checkups

October 19, 1994|By New York Times News Service

The sound of a drill in the mouth is becoming increasingly rare as Americans' need for dental fillings continues to decline.

In 1990, according to the latest survey of 4,206 dentists in private practice, Americans received, per capita, half the number of fillings they required in 1959, even though they were four times as likely to have gone to the dentist.

In 1959, more than one dental filling was needed for every man, woman and child, while in 1990, the latest year for which statistics have been compiled, the per capita filling rate was only 0.6.

The main reasons for the plummeting rate of tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association, include fluorides in the drinking water, topical fluoride treatments and regular checkups.

As a result of fluoridation, for example, half of today's schoolchildren have never had a cavity, whereas just two decades ago only 28 percent of schoolchildren could honestly say, "Look Ma, no cavities!"

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