Your mouth is a window to your overall health. Sometimes the first sign of a disease shows up in your mouth. In other cases, infections in your mouth, such as gum disease or tooth decay, can cause problems in other areas of your body.
That is why it’s so important that children see a dentist – so the dentist can provide parents with information on children’s oral hygiene and conditions such as cavities, gum disease and tooth decay and receive treatment.
Many children lack access to dental care, however, which is a critical component in achieving good oral health. PCCY works to improve the oral health of the region’s children by engaging in multiple, interconnected efforts to improve children’s access to oral health care services.
PCCY’s Health Policy Director, Colleen McCauley, describes our work with dental health providers, to help enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) when their families bring them in for free dental services. Once they are covered, children can get the dental care they need, when they need it:
A relatively high proportion of children overall living in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties see a dentist once a year (at least 92% across all four counties in 2012), yet disparities in access persist for children who are poor and uninsured, and in some counties, children who are Black and Latino.
Some children have private/employer health insurance that covers physical health care and not dental. Public health insurance (Medical Assistance and CHIP) covers both. In 2009, the federal government permitted states to create dental-only CHIP plans to help fill the coverage gap for children lacking private coverage. Data is not available regarding the number of poor children in suburban southeast PA who did not get dental care and had private medical but no dental coverage, yet attempting to identify and quantify these children and children like them across the state would help determine if Pennsylvania should create a CHIP dental-only option.
Click here for a summary of the Bottom Line Health Reports – Learn more about the state of children’s health across Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Click on the links below for the full reports in all four counties.
- Bucks – The number of Bucks County children who saw a dentist increased nearly 13% from 2004 to 2012.
- Chester – Nearly one in five poor children in Chester county did not see a dentist in 2012.
- Delaware – More Black, poor and uninsured children did not receive dental care in 2012 than any other group of children in the county.
- Montgomery – Nearly three quarters of uninsured children did not see a dentist in 2012.
Looking for low-cost dental care?
Call the PCCY Helpline 215-563-5848 x17 for more information about where you can find care. You can also get help applying for insurance.
Community health centers in the region provide care for everyone, regardless of insurance or citizenship status. To locate a community health center near you, refer to this map. Please call the Helpline for more information.
Give Kids a Smile Day
Smile Day is free dental care for children 1-18 years old, particularly children who are uninsured, have no dental insurance or haven’t been to the dentist in over 6 months.
Children will receive care in dentist’s offices in Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia counties.
Call PCCY to make an appointment (in any language) starting on March 27th at 215-563-5848 x32.
Help Us Help Give Kids a Smile!
VOLUNTEERS are needed for two important activities:
- Answering phones to make dental appointments March 27th – April 6th at PCCY’s office in Center City.
- Providing in-person language interpretation in Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese the week of April 10th at selected dental offices.
DENTAL PRACTICES are needed:
- Can you donate a few time slots to provide dental screenings for un-insured or under-insured children? Fill out this form: http://bit.ly/1lTWSW4 or download the form by clicking here (in WORD Format or in PDF Format) and faxing (or mailing or emailing) it back to us.
About Give Kids A Smile Day: PCCY has helped connect 3,200 children to free dental care over the last 12 years! Stemming from a vital need to increase the number of children who maintain and receive good oral health care, in 2003 PCCY coordinated the first Philadelphia-wide day of free dental care called “Give Kids a Smile Day.” Modeled after an American Dental Association initiative, every year PCCY recruits dental offices that create hundreds of appointments for children to have their mouths examined, teeth cleaned, and in some cases, cavities filled and teeth pulled. For Smile Day children who have no health insurance, PCCY’s Children’s Healthwatch Helpline staff work with their parents to enroll them in coverage so they have access to dental care any day they need it – and a dental home to return to.
PCCY published a guide to help parents and child-serving professionals help children access oral health care resources in Philadelphia. The guide lists over 50 practices in the city that particularly provide services to children with Medicaid coverage and with no health insurance.