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Accessing affordable dental care can be a struggle for many individuals, and unfortunately it's not just adults who have trouble getting the dental treatments they need, but children as well. According to a report by PBS, as of 2009, an estimated 19 million American children did not have dental insurance, which is more than twice the number of kids who did not have health insurance. Furthermore, some states are being hit by this problem more so than others.
For example, Ed Source Today recently published an article explaining that educators in California have been working to try and boost economic performance across the state. However, they are discovering that poor dental health may be one of the things standing in between students and success.
Schools try to solve the crisis
Ed Source Today stated that California schools are feeling the pressure to do something about children's dental health in the state. Dental health advocates have been calling for dental clinics to be set up in schools to help make sure that children have the care that they need. The news source spoke to Gordon Jackson, director of the state's Department of Education's Coordinated Student Support and Adult Education Division, which oversees health, counseling and other support programs provided at schools, who explained the scope of this problem.
"The issue is huge," Jackson told Ed Source Today. "Tooth decay remains one of the most chronic diseases for children and adolescents. As we're having the conversation about California's future and student academic achievement, we have to have a conversation about oral health as well."
While many agree that implementing more dental health programs into schools is a good idea, some question if it is a practical one. The news source explained that many school districts do not have the funds for these types of programs, and many of them do not revel in the idea of having to provide dental care on top of a vigorous academic schedule.
Ed Source Today also spoke to Kimberly Uyeda, director of student medical services for the Los Angeles Unified School District, who said that there just may not be enough hours in the day to give kids everything they need.
Dental problems cause academic issues
Whether they have the ability to implement dental care programs or not, school districts remain concerned about the dental health of California students. According to Ed Source Today, dental issues keep California students out of school an estimated 874,000 days a year, and schools lose more than $29 million a year in attendance-based funding as a result.
"School districts are eager to find a way to help kids stay in school and achieve," Maryjane Puffer, executive director of the Los Angeles Trust for Children's Health, told Ed Source Today.
Children and dental health
While schools continue to work to determine what they can do to help children gain access to dental health services, there are also things that parents can do at home to help their children have healthy teeth. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that parents can make sure their children are following a healthy diet and avoiding snacking on foods high in sugar in between meals. Furthermore, parents should teach their children how to brush and floss properly, and monitor them until they are old enough to brush properly on their own, which may not be until they are age 8 or older.
Finally, parents without dental insurance for themselves or their children should look into discount dental plans, which may help them get the care they need at a more affordable price than insurance.
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