Overall, children in America have the benefit of the best oral care in the world. The care they receive is so good that only half of the children who are enrolled in our schools have ever had a cavity! We have the advantage of fluoridated water in many public supplies and dental care that is easily accessible. This is wonderful news for our children and their smiles!
Sadly though, 25% of the children we speak of are the ones who have 80% of the cavities in this demographic. Children who have special health care requirements have just that: special needs. Those children, who are chronically ill, physically impaired or developmentally disabled, are some of the children who find themselves in the 25%. Some of these children are in families that rely on Medicaid, as those with medical problems often find themselves in a position where they qualify for this benefit. But even with this benefit, only 7.8% of Medicaid dollars are spent on dental care. Almost all children who are developmentally disabled are likely to have moderate to severe gum disease, which alone can be responsible for many, many trips to the dentist. A child with Down’s syndrome must have an x-ray of the neck before any dental treatment, to determine the position of their spine. If anything is awry, it may be safest to have their dental work done while they are under anesthesia.
Children fall into the at-risk category when they are from lower income families who have not placed, or have not been able to place, an emphasis on dental care. Not all community water is fluoridated, such as Mansfield, which also places these children at risk for dental disease.
Research has shown that dental disease may negatively impact a child’s performance in school as the pain and discomfort from any tooth decay is distracting and impedes the ability to focus on studies and eat a healthy lunch, which fuels him or her through the day. Every child deserves to have a healthy and attractive smile. Children with healthy mouths have a better chance of a good general health. With a healthy smile, children are more likely to have confidence in their appearance.