Minority Youth Less Likely To Receive Annual Dental Checkups

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Fewer than half of U.S. children under age 20 visit a dentist at leastonce annually, and even fewer minority youths receive regular dentalcheckups, according to the most recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

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Accordingto AHRQ, 34% of black youths and 33% of Hispanic youths visited adentist annually in 2004, compared with 53% of white youths. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistryrecommends children receive at least two dental checkups annually. Inaddition, 31% of those from poorer families made such visits, comparedwith 47% of children from middle-income families and 62% of those withhigher incomes.

Some experts say the disparities are relatedto a shortage of dentists who treat Medicaid beneficiaries, as well asfamilies' lack of access to health insurance and adequate dentalcoverage.

Arnold Rosenheck, assistant dean of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey Dental School,said, "Access to care, especially among people who don't have a lot offunds or who lack insurance, is a major issue and the need is great."Cavan Brunsden, a pediatric dentist and state chair of the AmericanDental Association's Give Kids a Smile,said, "Insurance is definitely a factor, but I also believe educationhas a lot to do with the situation." Rosenheck added that once parentsrealize the importance of dental care, they would be more likely toensure their children receive annual checkups (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 11/11).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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