The Value of a Child’s Smile

EDUCARE Central Maine 2011
EDUCARE Central Maine 2011

If we want our children to grow up and become the next generation of successful Mainers, we need to ensure early access to quality health care. Healthy kids are better equipped to develop physically, socially and cognitively. And, oral health care plays a critical role in healthy child development.

More than just a Smile

Oral health and general health are inexplicably linked. Not only does a lack of oral health care lead to increased dental health problems, but it also leads to poor health outcomes, including increased rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As a result, children should begin receiving oral health care at age one. When a child does not receive necessary preventive oral health care, their entire well-being is threatened.

Oral Health and Maine Kids

The 2015 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey found:

  • 27.7 percent of kindergartners had dental caries experiences
  • 40.9 percent of third graders had dental caries experiences
  • Over 600 kindergartners and third graders were in need of urgent dental care

These latest statistics related to children’s oral health in Maine are concerning. With over 3,500 kindergarteners and 4,500 third graders having experienced dental caries, there is a substantial need and opportunity to improve oral health in Maine children.

From improving oral health education to increasing access, it is clear that Maine has work to do it we want to significantly reduce the number of children in need of urgent dental care.

Oral Health Access

The first step to improving oral health in Maine is making sure our children have access to quality oral health care. The good news is, programs like the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and MaineCare help by providing dental coverage to kids. However, the rural landscape of Maine and the sparse population has made the physical act of getting to a dentist rather difficult. Learn more about oral health in Maine and the U.S. below.

Resources


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