Children's dental health is often an overlooked area, Cindy Ehnes, director of California's Department of Managed Health Care, believes.
According to a recent report from the Dental Health Foundation in Oakland, entitled Mommy, It Hurts to Chew, 28 per cent of elementary school children in the state have untreated tooth decay.
Some 140,000 of those 750,000 children required urgent attention, while more than 50 million school hours are lost in California every year due to dental-related illnesses, the Tri-Valley Herald reported.
In order to try and improve these figures, Ms Ehnes is on a state-wide tour to promote the importance of good dental health in children.
"We think it's really important for parents to understand the importance of oral health for overall health and mental health," she told the newspaper.
Poor dental health, such as decaying teeth, will not only affect a child's mouth but could also cause problems in the rest of their body, such as sinus infections.
Painful teeth also make it more difficult for kids to eat a decent meal, sleep properly or pay attention in class, according to the Herald.
The American Dental Association suggests that "developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums".
© 2008 Brafton Inc.
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