Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Underprivileged Children in Los Angeles Suffer From Lack of Dental Care

Children in a Los Angeles Ghetto

Why an I not surprised?
More than 80% of poor, migrant, and minority children in Los Angeles need dental care, including 73% who have untreated dental caries, according to a new study.

Of the 2,313 children examined, some 53% had fillings or crowns, according to a study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (May 2011, Vol. 22:2, pp. 648-662). Asians were more likely to have untreated dental caries, followed by Hispanics and then African Americans.
The study is here.


Objectives. The purpose of this study is to investigate the disease of dental caries among a population of poor, migrant, minority children in Los Angeles County. Methods. The study team developed an instrument to be completed by parents about their children's determinants of oral health, and adapted the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) protocol for conducting clinical examinations. The target groups were 2–5, 6–8 and 14–16 year-old children. Subjects were selected from public schools and early childhood programs. Results.The study recruited 2,313 children and found that 73% of all children had untreated caries (29% of them had white spot lesions only), 53% had fillings or crowns, and 81% needed dental care. Conclusions. This is the most comprehensive study of oral health among disadvantaged children of Los Angeles County. The study documented an epidemic of dental caries in the County, the oral health profiles of disadvantaged children, and prepared for the design of appropriate intervention programs.

And, in my over 30 years of Southern California practice, as the immigrant populations from Asia and Mexico have increased, so has the dental disease. Culture, diet, education and treatment resources are all barriers to fighting the dental epidemic.

But, California has massive budget deficits, so don't look for the government to help in the fight.

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