Oral Health Care for Children and Families
Tooth decay is the top preventable disease for kids. When kids experience poor oral health, their school attendance and grades are likely to suffer. Kids experiencing dental pain cannot concentrate in school and fully participate in activities. What’s more, oral health decay can lead to other serious medical problems. An estimated 65% of Utah children have experienced a dental cavity by the time they are 9-years-old.
The best way to treat cavities is through prevention: we can prevent oral health problems before they occur. But many families have trouble accessing affordable dental care for their kids. Working parents may not be able to get the time off for a routine visit. Low-income children, children of color and children in rural areas have an even harder time accessing a dentist in their communities. According to a recent Department of Health report, Hispanic children were five times more likely to report having unmet dental health needs compared to White children.
School-based prevention or sealant programs are one of the best ways to ensure all kids can receive affordable, preventative oral health care. Recent changes to Utah’s Medicaid dental care services have contributed to a decline in the number of statewide school-based sealant programs.
We need to help more children access school-based sealant programs and affordable care. Voices for Utah Children supports policies that expand dental care access for all children including:
- Changes to the existing managed care Medicaid dental program to better meet the needs of low-income families and expand school-based care.
- Expanding Medicaid and CHIP oral health quality benchmarks to improve enrollees’ utilization of preventive care visits.
- Expanding dental health benefits for children in the marketplace, including a more robust pediatric dental benefit package and embedding children’s dental health benefits into all plans.
- A comprehensive state plan to address oral health disparities experienced by low-income children, children of color, and children in rural areas across the state.
Our children should not be falling behind due to cavities or oral health pain. Together we can strengthen our pediatric oral health system so all kids can succeed.
Image Credit: © Oksun70 | Dreamstime.com - Kid Girl Brushing Teeth In Bathroom Photo
Image Credit: American Dental Association
For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.
How can you be involved?
Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more. Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!
We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.
Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor.