(Reuters Health) – Many kids on Medicaid are not receiving dental care, and those who do often first show up with a dental emergency, according to a new study.
Less than half of a group of four-year-olds the researchers followed had ever visited a dentist, and caregivers who neglected their own oral health tended to neglect that of their children too.
“We know that both good oral health and dental problems tend to cluster and co-occur in families,” said Kimon Divaris, who led the study at the UNC School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should visit a dentist for their first check-up when their first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. The AAPD recommends check-ups every six months after that to prevent cavities and other problems.
Oral health is part of general health, and dental problems in young children have been linked to other negative consequences including discomfort and pain, reduced quality of life, failure to thrive, time lost both from school and parents’ work and financial expenditures for families and the health system, Divaris told Reuters Health in an email.
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