to Smile: More PA Kids Expected to See the Dentist
5, 2014- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - It is the most common chronic childhood disease, and across Pennsylvania
and the nation some new requirements could help take a bite out of kids' tooth
dental care is one of the essential benefits under the Affordable Care Act,
meaning childhood dental care must be offered, whether it's part of a health
plan or as an optional stand-alone. That should help get more children into the
chair, said Dr. Paul Reggiardo, spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatric
estimate the number at somewhere probably around 16 million children who do not
have access to dental benefits," he said, "and lack of dental
benefits is a real barrier to care for a lot of families, and for a lot of
result of the ACA, it's estimated that as many as 8.7 million people age 21 and
younger will gain dental coverage nationwide by 2018.
year, Pennsylvania received a "D" in a national Pew study for its
efforts to protect low-income children from tooth decay by offering
cavity-preventing tooth sealants. Pew reported fewer than one in four high-need
schools in Pennsylvania has a sealant program.
said tooth decay and untreated cavities in childhood can lead to serious pain,
and the negative effects can spread from there.
who are suffering with pain, they're not getting adequate nutrition," he
said. "Their school performance is affected. Their learning is affected. A
child in pain is not going to be able to sit attentively in school and listen.
And so, the implications go well beyond just having cavities."
next major deadline under the Affordable Care Act is just weeks away, with the
first open-enrollment period ending March 31 for those who want a plan this
year through the health-insurance marketplace.
dental-plan information is online at healthcare.gov. ADA benefit examination is
at ada.org. The full Pew report is at pewstates.org.