Hawaii has the highest prevalence of tooth decay among third graders in the nation, a new state Health Department report has found.
Some 72 percent of Hawaii third graders have experienced tooth decay, compared to 52 percent nationally.
Meanwhile, about 22 percent of Hawaii third graders have tooth decay that's untreated.
The surveillance study, the first in-depth look at oral health among Hawaii’s kids, is based on dental screenings of more than 3,000 third graders statewide during the 2014-15 school year.
And the report’s authors said the findings “support the need for culturally-appropriate community-based prevention programs, screening and referral services, and restorative dental care to improve the oral health of Hawaii’s children.”
The study also found:
7 percent of Hawaii’s third graders are in need of urgent dental care because of pain or an infection, compared to 1 percent nationally.
In Hawaii, low-income, Micronesian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander kids have poorer oral health outcomes.
Hawaii beats out every other state when it comes to the prevalence of tooth decay among third graders. Texas came in second in the nation, with 67 percent, and Arizona rounded out the top three.
On Monday, the state Health Department will hold a news conference to discuss the report and outline what’s being done to improve dental care for young people in the islands.