1 in 4 Calif. Children Never See Dentist

LOS ANGELES, July 8 (UPI) — Some 25 percent of California children have never seen a dentist, while 1.6 million U.S. children miss school days due to dental issues, researchers said.

Nadereh Pourat of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Len Finocchio of the California HealthCare Foundation examined data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey involving nearly 11,000.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found Latino and African-American children with different types of insurance were less likely than Asian-American and white children to have visited the dentist in the previous six months — or ever in their entire lifetimes.

However, Latino and African-American children in government health insurance programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program went to the dentist less often than white and Asian-American children in the same programs. Overall, children with private insurance saw a dentist more often than those with Medicaid or CHIP.

“The findings suggest that having insurance isn’t always enough,” Pourat said in a statement. “We need to address the other barriers that keep children from getting the help they need.”

Fifty-four percent of privately insured children had seen a dentist in the previous 6 months, 27 percent of government-insured children had seen a dentist, while 12 percent of children without dental coverage had seen a dentist, the study said.

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