U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

Function Navigation

Bookmark and Share

Dental Care

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental caries (tooth decay) is the single most common chronic disease among children in the United States. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections, which may affect children’s ability to eat, speak, play, and learn.1 Dental caries, however, are preventable with proper dental care. For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dental checkup within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth or at 12 months of age, whichever comes first.

In 2006, only 27.7 percent of children eligible for services under the Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) program received preventive dental services.

In 2007, 73.0 percent of children aged 1-18 years received dental care, including care from dental specialists and dental hygienists, in the past year. Receipt of dental care varied by a number of factors, including race/ethnicity and income. Children with family incomes of 200 percent or more of the poverty threshold were more likely to have received dental care than children living with family incomes below 200 percent of the poverty threshold (78.9 versus 64.8 percent, respectively).

Non-Hispanic White children aged 1-18 years were more likely than children of other racial/ethnic groups to have received dental care in the past year (76.0 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Black children (71.0 percent) and Hispanic children (67.5 percent; data not shown).

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Oral Health. Children’s Oral Health. http://www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/topics/child.htm. Accessed 26 November, 2008.

Back to Top