For every child without health insurance, 2.6 children lack dental coverage, according to the American Dental Association. But we hope that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will begin to change those shocking numbers.
Under PPACA, health plans will be required to offer pediatric dental benefits starting in January 2014. This will open up coverage to 27 million children who currently don’t have dental insurance. Of those 27 million children, many will be coming into the system with unmet needs and require additional dental services.
What many people don’t know is that dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable, yet dental caries (cavities and tooth decay) is the most common chronic childhood disease — five times more common than asthma. Children are losing 52 million school hours each year due to dental disease, and poor oral health affects nutrition, speech development and learning during critical developmental years. The earlier a dentist sees a child, the better the dentist is able to keep the child healthy. Studies have shown that the age of a child at the first preventive dental visit has a significant effect on dental-related expenditures.