KHI and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment co-authored a report based on a comprehensive oral health survey of third grade children in Kansas. Information on tooth decay, the prevalence of dental sealants on permanent molar teeth and the need for urgent dental treatment was collected from more than 1,000 third graders. Their parents and guardians provided additional information on dental care providers.
This comprehensive oral health survey revealed telling details on the status of children’s oral health and provided key policy recommendations to improve the health of Kansas kids. Disparities in access to care, the survey found, are more likely to occur in rural settings, and/or among students attending lower-income schools. While the majority of oral health problems are largely preventable with basic dental maintenance, only three in ten children were observed as having molar sealants, one in four had untreated dental decay and seven percent had never visited a dentist.
With Kansas children still far from reaching Healthy People 2010 goals in oral health, the report’s authors suggest that increasing public awareness, investing in novel collaborations and tapping into evidence-based and creative interventions will make Kansas a state where children’s oral health has the priority it deserves.