Millions of Children Not Receiving Essential Dental Care in USA
A new report by the Institute of Medicine (IoM) and National Research Council recently revealed shocking statistics of 4.6 million children in America not receiving essential dental care in 2008. According to the report, these children did not even get to see a dentist for the simple reason that their parents did not have enough money to pay for a dental visit. The report also states that only 38% of seniors had dental coverage in 2006.
The report brought to light the fact that children are just one of the many vulnerable and undeserved populations that face a persistent and systemic barriers to accessing oral health. A point to be noted is that oral health care continues to elude people from racial and ethnic minorities, people with special health care needs, older adults, pregnant women, populations of the lower socio-economic status, and rural populations among others.
The report was prepared as recommended by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the California Healthcare Foundation in the year 2009. They were asked to convene a committee of experts to address access to oral health care in America for the vulnerable and undeserved populations and to assess the current oral health care system, also to develop a vision to improve oral health care for the vulnerable and undeserved populations and to recommend strategies to achieve the vision.
According to the author of the report, it is the “persistent and systemic obstacles that undermine people's access to oral health care.
The author has suggested the following measures, among many others, to remove these obstacles:
- By changing the funding and reimbursement for dental care.
- Providing and expanding adequate training to all the doctors, nurses and other non-dental professionals so that signs of oral diseases may be better identified.
- All the administrative, educational and regulatory practices need a complete revamp.
Frederick Rivara, the Chair of the committee that wrote the report says,
“The consequences of insufficient access to oral health care and resultant poor oral health - at both the individual and population levels - are far-reaching. As the nation struggles to address the larger systemic issues of access to health care, we need to ensure that oral health is recognized as a basic component of overall health."Continued on the next page