Poll Ranks Which States Have the Best Children’s Oral Health

Dentistry Today
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As healthcare dominates the news, WalletHub has released its report on 2020’s Best & Worst States for Children’s Health Care, including details about oral health as well as insurance status, unaffordable bills, and obesity. 

Children in Iowa had the best oral health overall, followed by the District of Columbia, West Virginia, North Dakota, Vermont, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Georgia. The bottom 10 included Ohio at forty-first, then Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, Washington, Montana, Missouri, Wyoming, Hawaii, New Jersey, and then Nevada in last place.

According to the report, New Hampshire has the highest percentage of children with excellent or very good teeth, followed by Connecticut and Rhode Island tied at second, Vermont, and Maryland. Mississippi had the lowest percentage of children with excellent or very good teeth, preceded by Arkansas, Missouri, Oregon, and Texas. 

Connecticut boasts the highest percentage of children with a recent medical and dental checkup. Massachusetts took second, with the District of Columbia, Colorado, and Rhode Island rounding out the top five. Oklahoma had the lowest percentage, preceded by Missouri, Nevada, Illinois, and Alaska at the bottom of the list. 

WalletHub says that about 95% of children age 18 and under have health insurance, though that high rate hasn’t translated to lower health costs for parents since costs have risen to almost twice their level since the 1980s. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program can provide relief for families that qualify, though other families still struggle. 

Massachusetts had the lowest percentage of uninsured children, followed by Vermont, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and New York and Rhode Island tied at fifth. Texas had the highest percentage of uninsured children, preceded by Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada.

Hawaii had the lowest percentage of children with unaffordable medical bills, with the District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, and Rhode Island also in the top five. Wyoming had the highest percentage, with South Dakota, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Texas also in the bottom five.

Additionally, Utah had the lowest percentage of obese children, followed by Minnesota, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana. Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Kentucky all tied for the highest percentage of obese children, preceded by Michigan. 

WalletHub determined its findings via three dimensions: kids’ health and access to care; kids’ nutrition, physical activity and obesity; and kids’ oral health. It evaluated these categories using 33 relevant metrics, with each metric graded on a 100-point scale.

Factors included in evaluating oral health included the share of children with excellent or very good teeth, the share of children with recent medical and dental checkups, the share of children with access to fluoridated water, the presence of a state oral health plan, the presence of school-based dental sealant programs, dental treatment costs, free or low-cost dental clinics per capital, the presence of a state mandate for dental health screenings, the share of dentists participating in Medicaid for child dental services, and dentists per capita.

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