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Idaho State University

Poverty and the Lack of Dental Care

August, 3, 2005

According to a 2000 surgeon general's report, one out of four children is born into poverty. Children from families with annual incomes of $10,000 to $20,000 have 10 times more unmet dental needs than children whose families

earn more than $50,000. Pain from untreated dental disease can prevent a child from properly eating, sleeping, speaking and paying attention in school, affecting growth and development. In addition, research now suggests that severe gum disease in adults can lead to increased risk of overall disease, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth.

Although dental professionals recommend that children see a dentist and dental hygienist no later than their first birthday, two out of five children living in poverty haven't seen a dentist by the time they start kindergarten.