Tooth Decay Facts

Early Childhood Cavities:

"Untreated cavities can cause pain, dysfunction, school absences, difficulty concentrating, and poor appearance - problems that greatly affect a child's quality of life and ability to succeed." --- Centers for Disease Control  


  • Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease in children living in the US.

  • In Sonoma County, there are less than 1.5 dentists to serve more than 109,000 low income residents. 

  • About two-thirds (6.3 million) of California children suffer needlessly from poor oral health by the time they reach third grade.

  • California ranks second to last in the nation on children’s oral health status, besting only Texas. In a recent National Survey of Children’s Health, California children’s oral health ranked among the lowest of all the states. 

  • Low-income children are at higher risk of suffering from dental disease. California children who participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program have a higher prevalence of decay than those who do not participate in the program (72% vs. 52%). They also experience more untreated decay (33% vs. 22%) and urgent dental care needs (5.5% vs. 2.5%).

  • Over 500,000 California children missed one or more school days as a result of oral health problems (not routine check-ups) in 2007. Untreated oral health problems impact children’s ability to thrive in school.

  • For every dollar spent on preventative dental services for children, $8 to $50 is saved in restorative and emergency treatments later in life.

  • Poor oral health is linked to other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and, for women, premature births. The foundations for adult oral health are laid early in life.

  • Treating oral health problems is far more difficult and costly in emergency rooms. For example, a comprehensive oral exam averages $60 in a dentist’s office, compared to an emergency room visit which averages $172, or hospitalization which averages upwards of $5,000.00.

PDI Surgery Center:

  • 400+ children were on the waiting list for treatment when PDI opened in January 2008.

  • PDI treats 200+ children each month.

  • PDI is Nothern California's only specialized nonprofit dental facility, and often the only option for our patients.

  • PDI treats children from 33 Northern California counties.

  • Demand for service continues to grow. We receive more than 25 referrals per week.

  • Our Oral Health Educator and staff meet with each family that has a child in surgery to give them nutrition information and encourage good dental health to prevent recurring decay. 

  • Our Current Financials: FY 2019-2020