The Sun Sentinel: Flordia Earns 'D' in Kids' Dental Health Report
Florida needs to put more teeth in its policies to protect children's dental health, if the results of a new national report by the Pew Children's Dental Campaign is any judge.
The report, released publicly Tuesday, gives the Sunshine State a "D" for failing to provide adequate access to what health officials consider a critical yet painless and cost-effective prevention tool: the sealant, a clear, plastic coating painted on cavity-prone teeth to ward off decay.
Florida joined 14 other states in receiving a "D." Five others and the District of Columbia got an "F." Just five states — Maine, New Hampshire, Alaska, North Dakota and Wisconsin — scored an "A." The grades were calculated based on points scored on four benchmarks: availability of school-based sealant programs; hygienist supervision regulations; data collection participation; and whether the states met federal public health objectives on sealants.
The report raps states like Florida for doing relatively little to make the sealants available to low-income, school-aged children. In one benchmark, the state scored a "D" for having sealant programs in fewer than 25 percent of its low-income schools.
"I very rarely hear about schools around here having them," said Boynton Beach pediatric dentist Dr. Lisa Feldman. "It would be excellent if they did because, unfortunately, I look at a lot of decay."
The state also failed two other benchmarks — for never participating in a national data-collection system and for not meeting federal public health objectives calling for sealants to be applied to the molars in at least half of all kids.
Florida did get a top mark in a fourth category, for passing a law allowing dental hygienists to apply sealants without first requiring a complete dental exam, making them more easily available. But according to the Florida Dental Hygiene Association, even that advancement has been seriously hampered by state Medicaid payment guidelines that still require a dentist to sign off on sealants before they can be reimbursed.
The the full article at Sun-Sentinel.com