By Mimi Johnson, NCL Health Policy Associate
This February, we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month. Each year, the American Dental Association spends February educating the public about the importance of good oral health and developing good habits early in life. You can help to spread the word by sending an “Oral Health for Kids” e-Card.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. More than half of all children have had some tooth decay, which when left untreated can cause pain so severe it hampers eating, speaking, playing, and learning. In fact, more than 51 million school hours are lost annually because of dental-related problems.
Tooth decay is largely preventable, making it all the more important that children have access to proper dental care and the resources to develop healthy dental habits. But for every child without medical insurance in the United States, there are 2.6 who lack dental insurance. Many are working to improve access to pediatric dental care, whether through legislation or on-the-ground donation of time and resources. NCL issued a letter last summer with several other organizations urging Congress to cover oral health within the large health reform bill.