State Earns a “C” in Pew Report Card

May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

A national 50-state report card gives Michigan a ‘C’ grade for children’s dental health. Nationwide, more than 16 million children go each year without seeing a dentist. The report released today by the Pew Center on the States reveals that Michigan met only four out of eight benchmarks for sound oral health policies.

This is the second straight year Michigan earned a “C” and is among 22 other states that made no progress on their grade since last year’s report.
To develop the report, Pew assessed states and the District of Columbia on eight proven policy solutions that ensure dental health and access to care for children. The policies fall into four groups: cost-effective oral health
prevention programs, such as sealants and fluoridation; Medicaid improvements that enable and motivate more dentists to treat low-income children; innovative workforce models that expand the number of qualified dental providers; and the availability of oral health data. Each state was then given a grade on an A to F scale.

The report reveals some areas in which Michigan stands out:
· Michigan does well providing fluoridated water to residents (89.8 percent) whose homes are connected to public water systems. Studies prove that fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 18 to 40 percent.

· Michigan does not require a dentist’s exam before a hygienist, working in a school program places dental sealants. Dental sealants are recognized as one of the best preventive strategies for children at high risk for cavities. Sealants cost one-third as much as filling a cavity and studies have shown that sealant programs targeted to schools with many high-risk children are a cost-effective strategy-as children living in poverty suffer two times more untreated tooth decay than their peers.

This report is the second time that Pew has assessed and graded all states on their dental health policies for kids. To view Pew’s fact sheet on Michigan and learn more details about the state’s progress on oral health, visit
http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/dental/makingcoveragematter.

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