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Pew Report: Pennsylvania Failing to Address Children's Dental Health Crisis
Date:2/22/2010

hildren and their access to care:

  • Sealants -- protective coatings applied to the teeth by a dentist or hygienist -- cost one third as much as filling a cavity and have been shown to prevent 60 percent of cavities. School-based programs are the most cost-effective strategy for providing sealants to disadvantaged children, yet this strategy is vastly underutilized.  
  • Water fluoridation counteracts tooth decay and strengthens teeth. Fluoride occurs naturally in water, but the level varies within states and across the country. In addition to being the most far-reaching preventive measure states can enact, fluoridation also offers an unmatched return on investment, saving $38 in dental treatment costs for every dollar spent.  About 30 percent of the population on community water systems does not yet receive fluoridated water.  
  • Medicaid improvements could enable and motivate more dentists to treat low-income children.  Only 38 percent of Medicaid-eligible children received dental care in 2007, largely because too few dentists are willing to treat them.  The number of children receiving dental services more than doubled over just four years in several states that have increased Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • New workforce models can expand the number of qualified dental providers who can fill the unmet needs of children.  A growing number of states are exploring innovative models that increase the involvement of physicians, hygienists, and new types of dental professionals.


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SOURCE The Pew Center on the States
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