JAMA Logo Providing accurate dental care seems to be a major task especially when it comes to the little ones. A latest study claims that poor, minority and special needs kids are more likely to be affected by a toothache. The findings ascertain that toothache can be a potential quality indicator pointing out differences in oral health for a population.

At the time of the study, experts analyzed data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health to gauge the prevalence of and risk factors for toothache among children. The data was gathered from a population-based sample of the parents/guardians of 86,730 children aged between 1 and 17 years. All the study participants belonged to 50 states and the District of Columbia. As per the population represented, around 10.7 percent U.S. kids had toothache in the past six months. Toothache was commonly reported by those aged between 6 and 12 years with one in seven affected by toothache in the previous six months.

Investigators remark, “The prevalence of toothache, particularly among vulnerable groups who disproportionately experience it, serves to reinforce the importance of physician involvement in oral health and of efforts to better evaluate and improve our nation’s oral health and dental care system. Optimally, our nation’s health care system would include equitable and universal dental care access so that all Americans could obtain preventive oral health care as well as timely diagnosis and treatment of dental disease. There are opportunities for pediatric primary care providers to address oral health prevention, assess for dental decay and toothache and treat complications. We propose toothache as a potential quality indicator reflecting disparities in oral health for a population.”

Charlotte Lewis, M.D., M.P.H., and James Stout, M.D., M.P.H., both of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and colleagues noted that 58 percent children with a toothache also had cavities within the past six months. Having adjusted for insurance and poverty status, black and multiracial children, dramatically greater odds of a toothache appeared. It was suggested that poor kids have the highest prevalence of toothache. Medicaid-insured children are possibly more able to go through a toothache than the uninsured or privately insured ones. A significantly higher prevalence of toothache appeared among children with special health care needs as compared to those requiring no special needs. Authors assume that functionally limited special needs children have considerable rates of toothache.

The study is published in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.