Improving the Oral Health of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Improving the oral health of children is a national priority for dentists and pediatricians. While we should be establishing a “dental home” for our patients by age one, this is challenging because of many factors, including limitations in dental resources. Children and youth with special healthcare needs (CYSHCN) are at high risk of dental problems. How does the oral health of CYSHCN compare to those without special health care needs (non-CYSHCN)? To answer that question Lebrun-Harris et al (10.1542/peds.2020-025700) analyzed data from the 2016-2018 National Survey of Children’s Health, which included 75,612 children between 1 and 17 years who were non-CYSHCN and 23,099 CYSHCN of similar ages. The authors estimated the prevalence of oral health problems and their receipt of preventive oral health (POH) services in the year prior to being surveyed. They also studied factors that affected better or worse receipt of POH services for CYSHCN.

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