Parents said affordability is the main reason why their children do not have dental care, despite the fact they may have dental problems that could be interfering with their ability to eat, sleep or concentrate in school. This fact was revealed in a new national survey by Public Policy Polling for Children’s Dental Health Project and sponsored by the Benevis Foundation, to expose the effect on children without dental insurance. According to an analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts, those most affected, within the over 4 million uninsured children without any dental or preventive care are low-income, minority, and rural children, even though federal law requires coverage.

Programs not being used

It has been shown that children with poor dental health are three times more likely to miss school, have trouble concentrating and are afraid to speak or smile. When parents were asked if the child's pediatrician or other doctors were seen, ever inquired about their children having any dental problems, 60 percent replied no. This is sad considering that tooth decay is the number one Chronic Disease of U.S. children and it was revealed that most uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but not enrolled. As of January 2017, 49 states expanded children’s eligibility beyond the minimum through Medicaid and CHIP. When enrolled in Medicaid, children are covered for all medically necessary care through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, which includes regular medical, vision, hearing, and dental screenings as well as other services.

Children's Health Insurance Programs provide benefits designed by each state that meets children’s needs, including dental care at a lower cost than private insurance coverage.

Dental sealants stops tooth decay

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using school-based sealant programs could save 1,000 children the need for 485 dental fillings.

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Dental sealants, a thin coating that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay, is only done in 11 states and only used in the neediest schools. It has been shown that the benefit of this program can prevent tooth decay by 80 percent in school age children and has been recommended that state officials implement policies to help schools work with Medicaid and CHIP to deliver this product to low-income students. Schools are also encouraged to advise parents on the benefits of enrollment into Medicaid and CHIP.