Health Care Reform Offers Dental Care For Kids

Written by on January 23, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page


child-dental-careDespite recent advances in preventative care, dental sealants, and the increased availability of fluoridated water, tooth decay still ranks as the number one chronic disease among children in the U.S. Over 25 percent of children will experience some degree of tooth decay in their baby teeth by the time they start kindergarten.

As children grow older, their problems with tooth decay continue to worsen, as roughly 68 percent of kids between the ages of 16 to 19 have some degree of decay in their adult teeth, according to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

While it’s notoriously difficult to get children to take their oral health seriously enough to brush and floss daily, one of the reasons why so many children suffer from tooth decay is the lack of health insurance coverage that pays for dental visits.

Fortunately for parents and children- even though a trip to the dentist might not seem like a reason to celebrate for kids- provisions in the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect in at the beginning of 2014 will make it easier for children to get their teeth cleaned and cavities filled.

Federal law will require all individual and small group health plans sold on a state and national level provide coverage for pediatric dental coverage. However, plans offered by larger employers aren’t subject to this requirement, and while Medicaid already requires pediatric dental coverage, many children don’t get enrolled in the program to take advantage of the services.

Even with these limitations, millions of children will now have the opportunity to visit the dentist they previously did not have before. Parents who have been unable to afford pediatric dental care up until this point should consider several factors when selecting the right dentist for their child.

What to Look for in a Pediatric Dentist

As with selecting any health care provider for you or your family, you need to determine if a dentist is the right fit. According to a survey conducted by the Children’s Dental Health Project, a large number of dentists don’t feel comfortable treating young children due to the difficulty they experience trying to get a child to cooperate and sit still while in the dental chair.

Visiting the dentist can be scary and confusing enough for a small child without needing to deal with a dentist who doesn’t know how to make a child feel comfortable and relaxed. Children who have traumatic experiences dealing with dentists when young, are more likely to develop dental anxiety that causes them to avoid seeking treatment from dentists as adults.

Make sure any dentist you consider taking your child to advertises as either a pediatric dentist or states they are kid or family friendly. You may also want to sit in on your child’s first dental visit so you can gage the demeanor of the doctor and how he or she interacts with your child during the appointment.

A good pediatric dentist should have more than a warm and friendly demeanor towards your child. Dental procedures can be scary for young children. A good pediatric dentist will take the time to briefly explain what’s going to happen to your child in understandable terms, so she will feel more relaxed and comfortable about the impending procedure.

You should also consider how child friendly the dentist’s office appears. Sterile atmospheres might be fine for adults, but children react better to colorful environments that features toys and other playthings that make them feel more relaxed.

Don’t feel as if you need to stay with the same dentist he feels to meet these standards. While it’s important for your child to get to know the dentist so he feels more comfortable during subsequent visits, it’s more important that you find a dentist who’s not only comfortable with, but actually enjoys treating children.

This is a guest post.  A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke blogs about the latest health topics for Dr. Robert McDowell, a dentist in Milwaukie, OR at McDowell Family & Cosmetic Dentistry. 

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /


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