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A recent national study conducted by the Pew Center on the States has given New York a C grade for its state policies regarding children's dental care.
New York received below average marks because it only met four of eight national benchmarks regarding state-sponsored dental health programs for underprivileged children.
Specifically, the report found that the Empire State needs to drastically improve its Medicaid program, which is underfunded and not reaching enough local children in need.
"In 2002, the North Country Children's Clinic did dental screenings of third-graders, and one of the things we found was a lack of access to dental care," said the clinic's director, Judith Overton, quoted by the Watertown Daily Times. Dentists "are grouped in metropolitan areas, so it's difficult to recruit dentists to Northern New York because they're further away from the city."
Furthermore, the report found that New York has a low number of primary care dental providers and does not offer widespread public access to fluoridated water.
Childhood tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. Every year, more than 51 million school hours are lost because of dental-related illnesses.
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