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Module 2: Risk Factors for Tooth Decay

2.1 Are Certain Population Groups at Increased Risk for Tooth Decay?

The following infants and children are at increased risk for tooth decay:

  • Infants and children living in communities without fluoridated water.
  • Infants and children from families with low incomes.
  • Infants and children from some racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Infants and children with limited or no dental insurance.
  • Infants and children whose parents have less than a high school education.
  • Infants and children with special health care needs (for example, those with developmental disabilities, Down syndrome, or cleft lip/palate).


Children ages 2 to 5 from families with low incomes are five times more likely to have untreated tooth decay than their peers from families with higher incomes.


Children from families with low incomes experience more tooth decay, more extensive tooth decay, and more pain and suffering from tooth decay than children from families with higher incomes.