By the time they reach kindergarten, more than 40 percent of American children experience tooth decay. In Pennsylvania, it’s even worse. A 2010 report by the Pew Center on the States that compares oral health care across all 50 states gives Pennsylvania an F.
Painful dental problems affect children’s overall health and ability to focus in the classroom. They also lead to costly emergency room care. Among adults, these same oral health problems become exacerbated, resulting in lost workplace productivity. When problems become severe, they can affect an adult’s ability to get a job. Children and adults with disabilities experience an even greater risk of oral health problems due to limited access to care, which can lead to serious behavioral and medical issues.
The Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) is comprised of leaders from across the state who agree that Pennsylvania must do better. Represented by schools of public health, philanthropic organizations, businesses, dental organizations, health insurance firms, advocacy organizations and other champions, PCOH’s goal is to advance practices and policies that increase access to oral health services and prevention education – especially for our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.