Nevada and the nation there are new requirements that could help take
a bite out of kids’ tooth decay.
Pediatric dental care is one of the essential benefits under the
Affordable Care Act, meaning childhood dental care must be offered,
whether it’s part of a health plan or as an optional stand-alone. That
should help get more children into the chair, said Dr. Paul Reggiardo,
spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “We
estimate the number at somewhere probably around 16 million children
who do not have access to dental benefits,” he said. “Lack of dental
benefits is a real barrier to care for a lot of families, and for a
lot of children.”
As a result of the ACA, it’s estimated that as many as 8.7 million
people age 21 and younger will gain dental coverage nationwide by
Reggiardo said tooth decay and untreated cavities in childhood can
lead to serious pain, and the negative effects can spread from there.
“Kids who are suffering with pain, they’re not getting adequate
nutrition,” he said. “Their school performance is affected. Their
learning is affected. A child in pain is not going to be able to sit
attentively in school and listen. And so, the implications go well
beyond just having cavities.”
The next major deadline under the Affordable Care Act is just weeks
away, with the first open-enrollment period ending March 31 for those
who want a plan this year through the health-insurance marketplace.
ACA dental-plan information is online at healthcare.gov. ADA benefit
examination is at ada.org.