For the past three years, Viacheslav “Slava” Fofanov and other Northern Arizona University researchers have been studying tooth decay in 350 preschoolers in northern Arizona to see if they are affected by the acidic bacteria in their oral “microbiome.” They will soon begin working both in southern Arizona in Yuma County and on the Big Island of Hawaii through a SHERC project to expand their research.
The long-term goal of the researchers is to reduce tooth decay, particularly in youth who are from ethnic minorities in the United States. In the U.S., early childhood caries (EEC), or tooth decay, is the most prevalent chronic disease in children, occurring five times as frequently as asthma.
Nationally, tooth decay rates of Hispanic, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander children are almost double those of white children, with approximately 52% of pre-school Hispanic children in Yuma County and 50% of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander children having untreated tooth decay. Read more