Systems and Standards Issue Briefs
February 24, 2014

Dental Care Access for Children in California: Institutionalized Inequality

By: Edward L. Schor, MD

Oral health, too often neglected in discussions of children’s health and health care access, is the single greatest unmet need for health services among children. In California, the disparity in oral health between poor and affluent children is among the worst in the US. The consequences are severe, both for the children and for our society. Nearly half a million children a year miss school due to a toothache or other oral health problems. School performance by children with poor oral health suffers by comparison to their peers. This disparity reflects the shortcomings in our social safety net of publicly funded health care services.

This new issue brief reviews the key factors affecting oral health care for children in California, particularly from low-income families, and offers recommendations.