Americans spend billions of dollars a year on dental care but ironically, most of that money is spent on fillings and root canals –the expensive aftermath of years of oral health neglect.
Study after study show that children who receive good oral health care starting at a young age tend to have less oral health problems as adults, yet 1 in 5 children don’t see a children dentist each year according to a study released by The Pew Center on the States in February, 2010. In an article published by USA Today (2/23/10), it was reported that the Pew Center on the States study found not only “one in five U.S. children go without annual dental care, but that most states lack key policies to ensure access to cost-saving preventive treatments.”
The Pew Center on the States is a non-profit policy analysis group that scored each of the states on eight policy benchmarks considered critical to children having access to and receiving dental care. A full report, entitled “The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children” is available online at www.pewcenteronthestates.org/costofdelay.
In order to receive a grade of “A”, a state had to meet at least six of the eight benchmarks. Only six states received an “A” grade. The majority of the 50 states (36) received a grade of “C” which is meeting only four of the eight policy benchmarks. In fact, the Pew Center found that two-thirds of the states were scoring a grade of C or worse.
A couple of the benchmark policies (on which the states were graded) that stand out as being achievable with relatively little cost and with a significant return on investment for both children and taxpayers include:
- School-based dental sealant programs
- Fluoridated water