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Children’s Dental Health, By The Numbers

A Surgeon General’s report on oral health, released in May 2000, found:

— Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease and is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

— More than half of all children aged 5 to 9 have at least one cavity or filling. More than three quarters of all those who are 17 years old have a cavity or filling.

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— Poor children have twice as many cavities as children with more resources and their disease is more likely to be untreated.

— For each child without medical insurance, there are at least 2.6 children without dental insurance.

— Children lose more than 51 million school hours because of dental problems. 

A September 2009 report by the General Accountability Office found:

— The number of children on Medicaid who were getting dental care grew from 27 percent in 2000 to 35 percent in 2007.

The 2004 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) found:

— Approximately 54 percent of the entire U.S. population had private dental coverage in 2004. Another 12 percent was covered by public programs, such as Medicaid, and 35 percent had no dental coverage.

The 2009 National Association of Dental Plans/Delta Dental Plans Association Enrollment Report says:

— The number of Americans with dental benefits nearly doubled from the mid-1980s, and is now relatively stable at 57 percent.

The Kaiser Family Foundation 2008 Survey of Employer Benefits found:

— 44 percent of employers offering health benefits also offer or contribute to dental insurance that is separate from the medical insurance.

The Children’s Dental Health Project: A side-by-side comparison of dental provisions in the proposed legislation

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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