Santa Clara County Plan to Improve Dental Care Could be Model for State
Noting that "California does poorly in preventive efforts and in providing dental care to low-income children," a San Jose Mercury News editorial says the state should pay close attention to a new Health Trust project that aims to improve children's dental health. Health Trust, which provides dental and medical service to low-income children in Santa Clara County, is "embarking on a five-year project to create the most efficient and cost-effective system possible to bring dental health care to young people," the editorial notes. With 21% of California 10th graders in "urgent need" of dental care and "[l]arge numbers of adolescents" suffering from advanced periodontal disease, the editorial says that the project may be a good start. Funded by the California Endowment and other sources, the project, if successful, could then be used as a model by other communities, the editorial maintains. However, the editorial notes many "daunting" barriers, including the high cost of dental care and the state's shortage of dentists and hygienists. In addition, health officials need to more effectively inform parents about the necessity of brushing and regular dental visits, the editorial says. But "[n]o one approach will solve the problem," the editorial says, adding that parents, employers, dentists and legislators all have key parts to play. Employers should keep dental health in mind when choosing health plans for their employees, dentists "must be willing to take charity cases" and legislators "must make reimbursement rates for public programs more realistic," the editorial asserts, concluding, "The Health Trust project will help Santa Clara County lead the way toward adequate dental care for all kids. If it's successful, the rest of California would be wise to follow" (San Jose Mercury News, 1/30).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.