August 8, 2016
by Elise Sarvas, D.D.S., M.S.D., M.P.H. and Jeffrey M. Karp, D.M.D., M.S., AAP News
Untreated dental caries are a significant pediatric public health problem. One in every seven U.S. children ages 2 to 8 years has untreated dental caries in primary teeth, according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (Dye BA, et al. NCHS data brief, no 191. Hyattsville, Md.; National Center for Health Statistics, 2015).
While fluoride varnish application is a well-established primary intervention for preventing dental caries, it does not restore deeper cavitated lesions. Untreated dental decay extending through the tooth’s enamel layer requires mechanical removal of decayed tissue with hand instruments or powered dental drills. Tooth structure lost during removal of the decayed lesion is restored with dental fillings or full coverage crowns.
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