Press-Enterprise Examines Programs to Address State’s Pediatric Dentist Shortage
The Riverside Press-Enterprise yesterday examined the state's shortage of pediatric dentists, which has reduced access to dental care for low-income and minority children. Only 490 pediatric dentists -- who treat children ages four and younger -- practice in California, which has about 10 million young children, Beth Mertz, director of the Dental Access Project at the University of California-San Francisco, said. David Perry, president of the California Society of Pediatric Dentists, said, "Right now, we're so busy filling holes, we don't have time to prevent cavities -- and cavities are preventable." To address the shortage of pediatric dentists, the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry has launched a program to train general dentists about "how to manage and treat young children" (Beeman, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/29).
In a separate article yesterday, the Press-Enterprise examined the "thousands of children with clearly decaying teeth" who reside in the Inland Empire. As many as 50% of Inland children have "visible dental decay," according to health and school officials in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. They attributed the problem to soda consumption, "nighttime bottle-feeding, too little brushing, too few dentists skilled in handling very young children and too little money to pay for preventive dental care." The Press-Enterprise highlights several area clinics and programs developed to improve dental care and hygiene among low-income children (Beeman, Riverside Press Enterprise, 4/29).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.