A survey sponsored by the Children’s Dental Health Project found that most Americans are unaware that children’s dental services are covered under the 10 essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act. According to the survey, 33% of Americans say that either they or a family member are currently suffering from dental problems that need to be addressed. Some barriers that prevent individuals from getting the care they need are out-of-pocket expenses and lack of insurance coverage.

In 2009, the CDC found that 34.6% of third graders in Kentucky had untreated tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay in children can lead to problems with chewing, speech, and self-esteem. Long-term untreated decay can cause a tooth to become abscessed. This can result in sepsis, an infection in the blood, which can travel to the brain and in extreme cases cause death.

Delaying a dental visit can be hazardous to one’s overall health. Patrice Pascual, Executive Director at the Children’s Dental Health Project, believes that “those with coverage are more likely to get dental care, and prevention is cost effective.” Kentucky has taken up the challenge to improve health coverage by participating in Medicaid expansion as well as creating our own state based health exchange called kynect. Parents seeking dental coverage for their children are encouraged to visit the online health insurance market place, kynect.