Families in difficult financial straits are forgoing routine dental care for children, putting their dental health at risk, according to a survey.
"The financial hardship brought about by the recession is putting more children at risk for tooth decay and more serious, even life-threatening, health problems," according to Dr Steven Adair of the Medical College of Georgia.
The survey looked at families with young children whose household income was less than $35,000 a year and found that 44 percent of them had been forced to choose between basic necessities such as food or rent and dental care for their children.
Of the families that had to put off dental care due to financial hardship, 75 percent did not have dental insurance.
Overall in the survey, more than 40 percent of the families said they only had government health insurance such as Medicaid. These families have a particularly difficult time finding a dentist to treat them. Many dentists will not treat children who only have government health insurance.
Poor dental health in children has been linked to poor performance in school and infections that take root in the mouth can threaten health by spreading to the rest of the body.
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