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FOR RELEASE: February 25, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Media Advisory

News Conference on Oral Health Needs of Oklahoma’s Children

What: News conference to provide alarming information on the pervasiveness of oral disease (tooth decay, missing teeth) among Oklahoma’s children
When: Friday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m.
Where: Oklahoma State Department of Health
1000 N.E. 10th Street, Oklahoma City
Conference Room 307
Featuring:

James M. Crutcher, MD, MPH
Commissioner of Health, Oklahoma State Department of Health

Stephen K. Young, DDS, MS
Dean, University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry

W. Scott Waugh, DDS
Immediate Past President, Oklahoma Dental Association

Michael L. Morgan, DDS, MPA
Chief, Dental Health Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health

Background: Good oral health is often taken for granted, but it is essential to our general health and well-being. Oral diseases can affect our ability to eat, the foods we choose, the way we look, and how we communicate. Yet in spite of the safe and effective means of maintaining oral health that have benefited most Americans the last century, a “silent epidemic” of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens, including our children. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease - five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

To better understand the dental health needs of Oklahoma’s children, the Oklahoma State Department of Health joined with the University of Oklahoma Colleges of Public Health and Dentistry to conduct an oral health needs assessment among Oklahoma’s third grade children. The resulting survey was the first to provide statewide data. In a report that will be highlighted at this news conference, researchers uncovered alarming statistics:

  • On average, each third grade child in Oklahoma has 2.8 teeth that are decayed or have been decayed.
  • Nearly 70 percent of third grade children in Oklahoma have dental caries experience (at least one permanent or primary tooth decayed, missing, or filled).
  • Oklahoma’s prevalence rate for dental caries experience is higher than the eight other states that have conducted similar oral health assessments of third graders.

The speakers will address the report’s findings and offer specific recommendations to improve oral health for Oklahoma’s children and adolescents.

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