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Dental Care Lacking for Miss. Children

By Daniel Cherry | Published 01 Feb 2013 06:10pm | comments
Tooth decay is the number one chronic illness affecting children in America. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, a study from the state Department of Health says more than 30 percent of Mississippi's schoolchildren have untreated cavities. 
Brianna Knight, a first grader at Galloway Elementary School in Jackson is one of more than one thousand students treated free of charge by UMC on Friday.
Knight: "They put filling on my teeth."
Reporter: "Filling on your teeth? Did you have a cavity?"
Knight: "Yes."
But Brianna says after visiting the dentist, she's learned how to better take care of her teeth. 
"Start brusing my teeth every night and every day, and floss them."
The Centers for Disease Control says about one quarter of children between 2 and eleven have untreated decay in their baby teeth. Lack of access to dental care puts Mississippi children even more at risk. Dr. Neva Ecklund is a Pediatric Dentist at UMC, and she says a big hurdle is educating parents tooth decay in children is serious.
"'Well they're just baby teeth, aren't they just going to fall out?' Yes that is true, but they are essential while they're here. the first thing is, they are the placeholders for the big teeth. So if they fall out early, the big teeth don't exactly have a path to follow." 
And worse, untreated tooth decay can lead to even more dangerous, potentially deadly, situations.
"If decay gets on a baby tooth, it can spread really, really quickly, and it can get down into the gums and the bones and the jaws and can affect the permanent teeth, but can also make that child really, really sick. "
Some state lawmakers say, lack of access to dental care shows the need for increased health services for low-income children in Mississippi. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.




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