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Study: 1 in 5 Kids Don't See Dentist Each Year

12:30 PM, Feb 25, 2010   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At least one in five U.S. children go without annual dental care and most states lack key policies to ensure access to cost-saving preventive treatments, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States.

Six states received an "A" grade from the non-profit policy analysis group for their dental health policies. But even children in those states have problems accessing care, the report said.

"Americans will be spending $106 billion on dental care this year," said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign. Much of that care pays for costly treatments such as fillings and root canals, which have their origins in poor childhood dental care, she said.

GRADING THE STATES: How does your state fare in dental care?

Among eight policy solutions it graded states on:

• School-based dental sealant programs. Just 17 states have programs to apply cavity-preventing sealants to children's molars in at least 25% of schools with low-income children.

• Fluoridated water. Only 26 states have at least 75% of their citizens on community water supplies with adequate fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

• Medicaid payments. Many dentists aren't willing to accept Medicaid reimbursement rates set below the actual cost of treatment. Only 25 states pay dentists at least 60.5% of retail fees. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program serving low-income patients, and state policies vary.

"That is a huge issue," American Dental Association President Ron Tankersley said. In states covering actual costs, "dentists will step up to the plate and take care of these kids."

In Rhode Island, which received an "A," the number of dentists treating Medicaid children increased from 27 to 217 - nearly half of dentists statewide - after the state increased payments and made other program changes in 2006.

South Carolina, which ranked best in the study, has in place seven of the eight dental policies.

"The policies have definitely impacted children's dental health," said Christine Veschusio, South Carolina's oral health director. "But we still have more children than we would like that are in school with untreated tooth decay."

New Jersey ranked last with only one of eight benchmark policies. Suzanne Esterman, a state Medicaid spokeswoman, said the agency questions some measures in the report. "New Jersey has made great strides ... to improve the number of children who receive care," she said.

More information on children's dental care

OTHER CHILDREN'S DENTAL CARE OPTIONS:

Duval County Health Department
Royal Terrace Dental Center
Department of Health Dental Clinic
Contact Person: Bruce Bradberry
Physical Address: 1830 W. 45th St., #5, Jacksonville, FL 32209
Office Contact Number: (904) 924-1783
Email: Bruce_Bradberry@doh.state.fl.us
Income Requirements: 200 percent of FPL or less; Medicaid eligible patients also seen
Locations Served: Duval County
Population Served: Children
Age Range: 1 to 18 years of age
Dental Services: Diagnostic, preventive, basic restorative and surgical services
Fees: Sliding fee scale between 100 percent and 200 percent FPL

Duval County Health Department
Wesconnett Dental Center
Department of Health Dental Clinic
Contact Person: Bruce Bradberry
Physical Address: 5150 Timuquana Road, Jacksonville, FL 32210
Office Contact Number: (904) 357-5899
Fax Number: (904) 253-2509
E-mail: Bruce_Bradberry@doh.state.fl.us
Income Requirements: None
Locations Served: Duval County
Population Served: Children
Age Range: 1 to 20 years of age
Dental Services: Cleanings, fillings, extractions, gum treatment
Fees: Based on procedure and sliding fee scale based on income

Duval County Health Department
South Jax Dental Center
Department of Health Dental Clinic
Contact Person: Bruce Bradberry
Physical Address: 1722 University Blvd. S.
Jacksonville, FL 32216
Office Contact Number: (904) 727-3790
E-mail: Bruce_Bradberry@doh.state.fl.us
Income Requirements: None
Locations Served: Duval County
Population Served: Children
Age Range: 1 to 20 years of age
Dental Services: Cleanings, fluoride treatments, exams, fillings, X-rays
Fees: Based on procedure and sliding fee scale based on income

Duval County Health Department
Happy Tooth Mobile Dental Unit
and Smile Express Mobile Dental Unit
Department of Health Dental Clinic
Contact Person: Staff on duty
Physical Address: 120 King St., Jacksonville, FL 32204
Office Contact Number: (904) 253-1200 or (904) 253-1130
Income Requirements: None
Locations Served: Duval County
Population Served: Children and adolescents
Age Range: 1 to 20 years of age
Dental Services: Preventive care
Fees: None

Buses scheduled at community sites
University of Florida, College of Dentistry
Jacksonville
Educational Facility Clinic
Contact Person: Clinic staff on duty
Physical Address: 2028 Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32206
Office Contact Number: (904) 244-4276
Web Site: http://www.dental.ufl.edu/
Income Requirements: None
Locations Served: Open to all
Population Served: Open to all
Age Range: All ages
Dental Services: Comprehensive dental care
Fees: Initial visit including X-rays is $140; other fees are based on procedure

Florida Community College at Jacksonville
Educational Facility Clinic
Contact Person: Clinic staff on duty
Physical Address: 4501 Capper Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218
Office Contact Number: (904) 766-6571
Income Requirements: None
Locations Served: Open to all
Population Served: Open to all
Age Range: All ages
Dental Services: Cleanings and X-ray
Fees: $10-adults; $6-children, 12 years old and under

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