The Patriot-News: Pennsylvania Gets a D for Programs to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children
Pennsylvania has received a D for its efforts to protect low-income children from tooth decay. The grade comes from the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit that identifies problems within the states and promotes solutions.
The report card is based on state efforts to ensure that children receive tooth sealant, which can prevent cavities. Pennsylvania received 5 of 11 possible points. According to Pew, less than 25 percent of high-need schools in Pennsylvania have sealant programs. The goal is 75 percent.
Pennsylvania is credited with participating in the National Oral Health Surveillance Program, but Pew faulted the state for not providing recent data.
Pew said Pennsylvania and 19 other states received a D or an F, and that "most states are not doing enough to use a proven strategy for preventing tooth decay, unnecessarily driving up health care costs for families and taxpayers." Five states received an A, with Maine and New Hampshire receiving the highest possible scores.
Sealants are typically first applied when children are in second grade once their permanent teeth have appeared. Pew said providing sealant through school-based programs is a proven way to reach low-income children, who are at greater risk of tooth decay.
Sealants have been available for decades, but recent data shows only half of U.S. teens aged 13-15 had received sealant, according to Pew.
Read the full article at pennlive.com.