Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridated Pittsburgh: Highest rate of Tooth Decay in State

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | February 13th, 2005 | By Violet Law

Myles Lenger, 7, knew he was due for a dentist’s visit.

A free dental screening Saturday at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the North Side proved him right.

Hygienist Lisa Fabrizio found a cavity when she checked the second-grader from Monongahela, Washington County.

Myles was among more than 400 children who got a free checkup through the annual screening offered by the Dental Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Nearly half of children in Pittsburgh between 6 and 8 have had cavities, according to a 2002 state Department of Health report. More than 70 percent of 15-year-olds in the city have had cavities, the highest percentage in the state. Close to 30 percent of the city’s children have untreated cavities. That’s more than double the state average of 14 percent.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children as young as 1 begin seeing a dentist at least every six months, said Dr. Brian Martin, chief of pediatric dentistry at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Early intervention has tremendous cost benefits for the family,” Martin said.

Applying sealant to the surface of permanent molars is one way to prevent tooth decay, Martin said. Since 1998, the Allegheny County Health Department and the University of Pittsburgh Dental School have jointly offered a free dental-sealant program to children in low-income school districts.

Myles, who has just shed his milk teeth, said he likes his new set of incisors. “I can bite into my apple better.”

So he said he will work harder to clean up the plaque that has built around the gumline.

But he admits, “I don’t do it every morning. I have to get up at 6,” he said.