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Dentists? They're strangers to 1 in 4 California kids

July 7, 2010 | 12:14 pm

Exam It's not a pretty picture, the overall state of dental care for California's kids. That's because too many of them -- one-quarter, to be exact -- don't have it. Yep. One in 4 have never even been to a dentist.

That attention-grabbing statistic is from a dental-care study released Wednesday and published in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs. It analyzed care -- or, rather, lack thereof -- for children ages 11 and under in the so-called Golden State.

The researchers, from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation, found that the picture is especially bleak for Latino and African American kids, regardless of whether they have private insurance or public insurance (Medicaid for the Children's Health Insurance Program). 

The abstract of the study states:

"Poor oral health has important implications for the healthy development of children. Children in Medicaid, especially Latinos and African Americans, experience high rates of tooth decay, yet they visit dentists less often than privately insured children. Even Latino and African American children with private insurance are less likely than white children to visit dentists and have longer intervals between dental visits. Furthermore, Latino and African American children in Medicaid are more likely than white children in Medicaid to have longer intervals between visits. These findings raise concerns about Medicaid’s ability to address disparities in dental care access and, more broadly, in health care."

That seems safe to say.

The full study, Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Dental Care for Publicly Insured Children, can be accessed through the California HealthCare Foundation website.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Getty Images

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Comments (14)

The California Dental Association used its political might and deep pockets filled with corporate cash to get state legislation passed that forces almost every California city to add fluoride chemicals into the drinking water supplies costing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers dollars (tobacco money laundered through the first 5 organizations)

This gives the illusion that organized dentistry cares about the low income people they will never allow in their dental chairs. 80% of dentists refuse Medicaid patients and 130 million Americans don't have dental insurance.

Take back your water supplies from this special interest group and demand that fluoridation stop and that dentists be mandated to treat more low income Californians instead of their drinking water

Modern science indicates that ingesting fluoride does not reduce tooth decay, but does expose entire populations to fluoride's adverse drug effects see http://www.fluorideAction.Net/health

Not only kids, but more people in general would go to the dentist if it wasn't so expensive! How are you supposed to afford thousands of dollars for cleanings, exams, x-rays, fillings, crowns and especially braces not to mention wisdom tooth extraction.
Add this together with the bad attitude you get at the dentist office if you aren't rich or if you are a minority and who would want to go?

Sounds like regardless of availability of insurance coverage, black and hispanic parents don't make appointments & bring their kids to the dentists like they should.

nyscof - First get your facts straight. Fluoridation is safe. Has been proven safe by numerous independent studies and is responsible for a large proportion of reduced caries in the overall population, especially in low-income families. Citing an anti-fluoridation website as a place to find "facts" is pure internet falacy. Want real scientific facts, then make your way to a university and access the many peer-reviewed scientific articles investigating fluoride for real facts. Unless you are such a believer in conspiracies that you think hundred of researches working independently over many, many years could be "bought" and find the same results.
As for the cost - yes it is expensive, no doubt about it. Access to care is indeed a huge problem for many, many people. But until the cost of a dental education (in CA it's probably about $500,000 by the time you finish all college) and opening a practice go down, it's hard to see what the solution is. Should people give up 8 years of their life to go to school to earn as much as a plumber? Difficult question with no easy answer...I'm sure if the reimbursement rate on Medicaid was increased (so doctors didn't have to nearly lose money on every child) more doors would be open. That'd be a start, but with our near-bankrupt state I don't think that will happen soon...

hijk describes dentsitry as "so expensive", yet fails to realize that fees are relatively flat, while expense continue to skyrocket. Many of my peers are saddled with hundred of thousands of dollars in educational loans just for their basic training. Once a dentist hangs their name on the door, the business expenses only acclerate: payroll, practice debt service, taxes from every corner, materials, supplies, lab bills to create great looking crowns and veneers, ect.

In my small dental office, which has relatively low overhead, it costs 30,000 per month to keep my name on the door and the lights on. Since the downturn started, its been ever harder to break even. Despite this hardship, our office has done over 50,000 (in 2009) of donated dental care to those in need.

I think if would help if hijk would STFU about her measly bill, running a outpatient surgical suite isnt free.

Dental 'insurance' (even 'good' insurance) is essentially just prepaid cleanings. The max coverage is usually $1000 per year--that barely covers anything. Why spend $400 in premium for that???

There we go again. Stop using the race card. You can't force people to visit the doctor. Brown and black is now the prefered race?

One in four children in California are foreign born or are the children of foreigners. That translates into a lack of money and concern for a dentist....Unless its an emergency.

Dental care is just as important as

being able to see a dentist is just as important as seeing a doctor. Why does'nt Obamacare include dental care? Do the dentist have a stronger lobby?


Because most adults do not believe in preventive care, Dental care is again only used if you have pain in your gums, your teeth, or lose fillings. Getting families,even on court orders, to take a child to the dentist is like pulling teeth without Novocaine. All Pediatricians recommend a 6 month to yearly dental visit after age three. Now the ages are lowered to 6 month to a year of age. Brushing an infant's teeth is not a task that most mothers do. Putting a child to bed with a bottle of milk is more the norm. More education is needed in schools and at adult forums, More dentists need to go to preschools and do outreach. It helps

Maybe people should stop popping out kids they can't afford or won't take care of.

Fluoridation directly on teeth is safe and effective to delay tooth decay, but unsafe in your stomach, bones, bloodstream, lymph system, etc. Fluoride weakens bones by making them brittle. What person with brittle bones already wants bones to become even more brittle?

That's why it's safe to brush with fluoride but it's not safe to drink it, fluoridated water, for example, from the grocery.

Remember that Fluoride is waste bi-product from processing Aluminum, and is a cost-effictive way for the Aluminum industry to dispose of its waste because, instead of having to dump it, it's sold to toothpaste manufacturers, water bottlers, and municipal water plants who are mandated by the laws pushed through by the Aluminum industry to put added Fluoride into drinking water. It's used as a medication so you are being forcefully medicated if you drink from the municipal water supply.

I drink only distilled water.

NY State passed legislation within the past few years which requires a dental health certificate as part of school health forms. Children who are new to the NY public school systems, as well as those in K, 2, 4th, 7th, and 10th grades must be examined by a state-licensed dentist and have a dental health certificate signed. Low-cost dentists and those willing to work pro-bono are referred to the sudents in need.

One of the problems with Medicaid in other states is the lack of dentists that participate. It can be truly difficult to find a dentist willing to take medicaid.

I guess dentists are not as famous as doctors eh. And maybe this is one of the reason why Obamacare doesn't include dental care.:(



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