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Millions of Children Lacking Dental Care: 1-800-DENTIST

New research has found that approximately 16 million children are unable to access basic dental care. The information has been revealed by The Pew Center on the States State of Children’s Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter report from early 2011. The findings were released by the organization in May 2011 and were produced via the Center's second annual analysis on how well America is handling the basic dental health needs of insured children and youngsters who will soon be covered under dental insurance.

In America tooth decay is considered to be the most "chronic infectious disease" (http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/topics/child.htm) negatively impacting the health of children. With millions of children lacking proper access to dental care, dental problems are poised to worsen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, untreated dental cavities can become infected and cause toothaches. That discomfort can lead to additional woes that can make it difficult for children to get proper nutrition, develop social skills, inhibit communication, limit playing and obstruct learning.

About the Pew Center Research

The Pew Center on the States is an independent think trust dedicated to analyzing trends affecting the well being of the country. According to the organization's website "The Pew Center on the States grew from the recognition that America’s success and prosperity depends upon the strength of the states," (http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/about.aspx). Since tooth decay is known to be a scourge, the nonprofit group has dedicated its' efforts to monitoring how well each state is handling the task of providing dental care to children.

The Pew Center uses a report card format based on eight criteria to determine how well each state is managing the task (http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/initiatives_detail.aspx?initiativeID=85899359680). The benchmarks analyzed by the organization include each states achievements in regards to:

  • Having dental sealant programs in a minimum of 25 percent of high-risk schools.
  • Authorizing dental hygienists to place sealants via school-based programs without patients needing a prior exam by a dentist.
  • Providing fluoridated water to a minimum of 75 percent of residents relying on community water sources.
  • Ensuring that Medicaid enrolled children aged 1-to-18 get regular dental care. That number is to either meet or exceed the 2007 national average of 38.1 percent.
  • Properly reimbursing Medicaid enrolled dentists their fair of share of retail fees (according to the source the national average was 60.5 percent in 2008).
  • Paying Medicaid doctors for implementing preventative dental care for children as new parents are more than likely to skip dental appointments early on in the parenting game.
  • Approving a new type of dental care provider such as a dental therapist.
  • Keeping track of children's dental health data.

Findings Overview

The first crop of report cards was produced in 2010 and the most recent data shows a great improvement over the previous findings. According to the source, 22 states increased their ratings in 2011. The Pew Center accredits the success to a variety of reasons including:

  • Paying back doctors for implementing preventative dentistry.
  • Increasing water fluoridation, which is thought to be one of "ten great public health achievements of the 20th century" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/).
  • Getting more Medicaid-enrolled children to dentists.

Why Childhood Dental Care is Important

The fate of the nation rests on the current generation of children. The Pew Center has noted that lack of dental care during childhood can inhibit the development of children into functioning adults. One key finding cited by the organization indicates that children who lack dental care in their youth face worse job prospects than their dental care receiving counterparts.

Caregivers concerned about the future well being of their children should take the time to find a dentist and get their child's teeth examined ASAP. From the very first feeding parents should gently wiping down their baby's mouth with a soft cloth and water to remove sugary residue and once the first baby tooth starts to make an appearance, visiting a dentist is a dental tip worth following.

Individuals looking for a qualified kid's dentist, pediatric dentist or family dentist to help care for their children's teeth should contact 1-800-DENTIST immediately. Our operators can answer any questions and help those in need find a great dentist 24.7.

 
 
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