Child Health USA 2006
Photographs of children's faces

Health Services Financing and Utilization


In a 2000 report on oral health, the Surgeon General identified dental caries (tooth decay) as the single most common chronic disease among children in the United States. This is a preventable health problem that can significantly affect children’s health, ability to concentrate in school, and quality of life, and is more common in children of low-income families.

To promote good oral hygiene, the American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dental checkup within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth and no later than 12 months of age. In Federal Fiscal Year 2004, only 26.5 percent of children eligible for services under the Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) program received a preventive dental service.

In 2004, 72.3 percent of children had seen a dentist in the past year. Frequency of dental visits among children varies by family income and race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic White children between the ages of 1 and 18 years were most likely to have visited a dentist or other dental specialist within the past year (76.9 percent), while Hispanic children were least likely (62.3 percent). Children with family incomes at or above 200 percent of the poverty level were more likely (78.1 percent) to have seen a dentist in the past year than children living with family incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level (63.3 percent).


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Child Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Child Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.