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It takes a community to provide quality dental care for Michigan’s children

February 22, 2019 (Grand Rapids Business Journal) – February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which serves as a time each year for dentists and health care providers to highlight the importance of good oral health for children, their parents and caregivers, educators, communities and beyond.

Last year, more than 1 in 3 Head Start children in Michigan (age 3-5) had a history of tooth decay, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 MI Head Start Smiles survey. In addition, 22 percent of Michigan’s Head Start children had untreated tooth decay and 24 percent needed dental care — including 5 percent in need of urgent dental care due to pain or infection.

These are alarming statistics for the health and well-being of our children, as well as the state’s economy. Though preventable, tooth decay gone untreated can lead to costly consequences for children and their families, including hospital visits and lost time at school and work — not to mention the unnecessary pain and suffering and difficulty chewing and speaking that children experience, putting their nutrition and development at risk.

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