By: Diane Oakes, President & CEO of Arcora Foundation When our state legislators passed the 2019–2021 Operating Budget in the final days of the session, they included a proviso directing the Health Care Authority (HCA) to stop moving forward with the planned implementation of Medicaid dental managed care, to continue directly administering the program under…
A cavity-free childhood is possible
Tooth decay doesn’t have to be a part of childhood. Good oral health is a vital component of children’s happiness and wellbeing. When young children have access to preventive oral health care and early treatment, it sets them on a path of healthy living.
Washington state is a national leader in providing oral health care for young children, due in large part to the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program. Oral Health Watch supports efforts to maintain and strengthen proven-effective programs like ABCD to ensure that young children continue to have access to essential preventive oral health care and early treatment. We urge lawmakers to remain committed to children’s oral health and build on the progress that has been made.
Though almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. In Washington state, 53 percent of third-grade students have at least one cavity and 17 percent of third-graders reported having seven or more cavities. These numbers are unacceptable.
Poor oral health has serious consequences for children. If left untreated, oral disease can lead to painful cavities, lower school attendance, malnutrition, low self-esteem and diminished employment opportunities later in life. Policies that provide accessible dental care in the early years also help foster lifelong health and general wellbeing. Studies show that children who experience decay in their primary teeth are more likely to have cavities as adults, impacting their oral health and overall health for a lifetime.