The percentage of Colorado kids with dental insurance hit an all-time high in 2015. Nearly 85 percent of youth under the age of 19 had coverage, a steady climb from a low of 74.4 percent in 2009, according to the Colorado Health Access Survey.
This is good news for thousands of children and families. Dental insurance provides some financial protection from the costs of care, especially children’s routine preventive services. And coverage is an important factor in determining whether a person receives dental care.
Three of four Colorado kids visited a dentist or dental hygienist in 2015, continuing an upward trend from a low of 71 percent in 2011.
Another measure of good news for children and families, right?
Up to a point. A closer look finds dental coverage is outpacing dental care. While 84.7 percent of kids had coverage, only 77.2 percent received care.
Nearly one of five kids with coverage — 17.5 percent — are not seeing a dentist. Some families may not be familiar with using their dental insurance. Providers may have limited appointments, if any, for children with Medicaid. And in Colorado’s rural communities, dentists may be hard to come by.
Dental experts recommend that infants, children and adolescents receive age-appropriate dental care at least every six months. These visits can also help parents, who may need support and advice from dental professionals on strategies to instill good oral health habits at home.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. It is also entirely preventable. Colorado has made progress on boosting the number of children with dental coverage. Let’s keep working on getting all children into a dental chair.