But in Ohio, dental health remains the state's top unmet health need. More than half of Ohio’s children experience dental decay by third grade and nearly one-third have never been to the dentist.
Linda Primrose Barker chaired the advisory group for the Ohio Head Start Association. She says many parents cannot find or afford care.
Project director for Dental Access Now, David Maywhoor, says most people don’t recognize that a large part of physical health is related to oral health.
Maywhoor says without regular preventive care, too many Ohioans live in pain, miss school or work, and even develop life-threatening infections.
As someone who has worked in Head Start programs, Barker says far too many kids are not getting the proper care they need.
Barker says now is not only a good time to promote awareness of the importance of good dental health, but it’s also a good opportunity for state leaders to focus on policies that can increase access to oral health care.
She and others propose the use of mid-level dental health practitioners, who provide primary prevention services and routine fillings and extractions, to help expand the reach of dental care in Ohio.