We’ve shown you our numbers — that out of 1,887 York County kids, our Kids Against Cavities staff found 2,351 cavities in 2015.
In our second Pre-K Counts visit of 2016, we screened 27 kids and found 87 cavities. In an hour and a half last week, we screened 93 kids at VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg.
We hope these numbers shock you. And then we ask you to help. With just the donation of $25, you can get 10 kids toothbrushes and toothpaste. 10 kids. Last week, I saw more than 10 kids who straight up told me they did not brush their teeth. Many said they didn’t have time. Maybe they just forget. One third grader told me her sister threw her toothbrush out and her parents hadn’t bought a new one.
They wouldn’t buy her a new toothbrush — something you could get at the dollar store. It’s something that just blows my mind because brushing my teeth twice a day is something my parents have always taught me. Many of the people I’ve talked to about our Kids Against Cavities program agree and are just as flabbergasted. And yet, grateful that it’s something we just grew up doing. We were taught it was important.
As we work to raise $1 per cavity found in 2015 this February — which is Children’s Dental Health Month — we also want to show you more facts. To show you that this is a widespread problem.
- Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic disease facing children in America. And it’s nearly always preventable.
- Nearly 1 in 4 children between the ages of 2-5 have had tooth decay. And two-thirds will have had a cavity by their teens.
- It’s not just about pain. Tooth pain can affect a child’s ability to sleep, eat, speak and socialize. They’re more likely to miss school and earn lower grades. And their parents are more likely to miss work because of a child’s pain.
- It’s costly. In 2009, roughly $20 billion was spent on U.S. dental care for children ages 5 to 17. That’s nearly 1 in 5 dollars spent on health care for this age group.
- Avoiding the dentist won’t save you money. When cavities are untreated, costs will soar. Young children with a lot of decay are often treated under general anesthesia. Not only does that cause a risk to developing brains, but it can cost $5,000 to $15,000 per child.
- Education is important. A mother’s health strongly predicts her young child’s risk of tooth decay. And parents may lack information about good oral health — even in just knowing how to brush their child’s teeth.
- It’s not just something dentists must tackle. Primary prevention of tooth decay begins before age 3, yet fewer than 1 in 6 Medicaid-enrolled children ages 1-2 receive any preventative dental services. BUT nearly 80% of them visit their pediatrician. So it’s important that providers talk about dental health during the course of a regular visit and make referrals as needed.
- All children need affordable, comprehensive dental coverage. Check out Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). And know that at Family First Health we have a sliding scale based on income and will help you.
This February help us as we work to change the tide of children’s dental health in York and Adams counties. Community donations of any size go directly into our Kids Against Cavities program to help reach more children.
I have just taken in my first foster child and he has a lot of tooth decay, because he has never been taught to brush his teeth or taken to the dentist. He is five-years-old and so I am taking him to get that taken care of soon and I am concerned about the anesthesia part of it. Is there a way to reduce the risk that that can cause to his developing brain?
Kate Harmon says
I’d say your best bet is to talk to your dentist about your concerns and see if they have any other ideas.