Why Too Many Kids Still Get Cavities
According to the CDC, up to 80 percent of cavities could be prevented with dental sealants, but only about 60 percent of kids—and one in three from low-income families—who could benefit from sealants get them. Cavities can cause pain and other health problems and can impact quality of life—making it difficult for children and teens to eat properly and focus in school. Sealants are plastic-based coatings applied to the molars. Once applied, they prevent food and bacteria from getting into the uneven surfaces of the teeth and causing cavities.
By the time they reach the age of 19, 20 percent of kids in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay. On average, those without dental sealants have three times as many cavities as those who have them. In a statement, the director of the CDC reports that school-based dental programs are an easy way to get sealants to children.
In the long-run, these programs could save “up to $300 million in dental treatment costs,” according to the CDC. However, funding for school dental programs varies from state to state. The federal government has plans to classify pediatric dental care as an essential health benefit in the future, meaning it will be covered by dental insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
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