The Pew Charitable Trusts recent analysis, “How to Improve Health Outcomes for Kids,” reported only 50 percent of children on Medicaid received dental care in 2016 causing dental caries to become the most common chronic disease of children aged six to 11 in the United States. The CDC’s Oral Disease Burden and Prevention 2017 also reports that 54 percent of kindergartners and 70 percent of third graders have experienced dental caries and one-third of children in California have untreated tooth decay. Latino children and poor children experience more untreated tooth decay than other children. Approximately one half million children in California missed school in the past year because of dental problems.
A solid first step in addressing tooth decay in children is good oral hygiene. The Orange County Childhood Language Center, made possible by funding from the Scottish Rite Foundation, is a teaching clinic for graduate students from Crean College’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. This clinic provides speech-language services to disadvantaged children in Santa Ana. Through the generosity of the CLC Board of Directors and the Scottish Rite Foundation, children seen at the CLC are receiving free oral hygiene kits to promote twice daily brushing and flossing.