Dental Health Advocates Push for School Districts To Offer Treatment
Dental health advocates increasingly are urging California school districts to help provide dental health care services for hundreds of thousands of low-income children, KQED's "State of Health" reports.
Details of Children's Dental Care Needs
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, dental health problems among California children are at "epidemic" levels. Low-income children are 12 times more likely than children from higher-income families to be absent from school because of dental health problems.
Dental health advocates say that the problems are exacerbated by:
- Denti-Cal's inability to adequately serve low-income children;
- A lack of funding for a state school-based dental disease prevention program for low-income children; and
- A lack of funding to enforce existing state laws that require oral screenings and preventive dental care for school children.
School Districts Respond
Some school districts say that they lack the resources to provide dental health services to children or that they are unwilling to implement a dental health program in addition to regular curriculum.
Kimberly Uyeda -- director of student medical services for the Los Angeles Unified School District -- said, "It's a great idea to bring universal prevention programs of all types, including dental, to schools," adding, "Whether there's enough time in the day is another question."
However, some school districts have launched dental health programs that are financially self-sustaining because they bill insurers or rely on grants and partnerships.For example, San Diego Unified School District hosts the La Maestra Mobile Health Clinic, which provides fillings and restorative dentistry to students at 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Providers who work at the clinic seek reimbursement from insurers whenever possible (Adams, "State of Health," KQED, 4/3). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.