Los Angeles-Area Groups Mull Options To Boost Access to Dental Care
Poor nutrition, inadequate oral health education among parents and lack of access to dentists are to blame for dental disease being five times more prevalent than asthma among children in California, community leaders said at a meeting on Friday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
A group of nurses, teachers, pediatricians, dentists and health promoters met Friday at Meet Each Need with Dignity, an anti-poverty agency in Pacoima, to discuss ways to boost oral health awareness.
A Dental Health Foundation study found that nearly two-thirds of children in California have dental disease by the time they are in the third grade, making it the top health problem among children. Meanwhile, a California HealthCare Foundation report released this month found that 23% of children ages six to 11 suffer from untreated cavities.
Maritza Cabezas, a dentist with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, noted that "California ranked as the worse state except for Arkansas" in a survey. She added that dental disease is the "number one cause of missed school in" the Los Angeles Unified School District.
According to the Daily News, few dentists accept Denti-Cal, the state's dental program for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, because of low reimbursement rates. In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) recently has considered cutting funding for those who already qualify for Denti-Cal to help reduce the state's budget deficit.
Friday's meeting was coordinated by the Valley Care Community Consortium, a group of health and mental health providers and schools (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/22).
CHCF publishes California Healthline.