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News Link • Healthcare

Racial Gap in Kids' Dental Care Vanishing: Study

•, By Steven Reinberg
 By 2010, the disparity in receiving dental care had almost disappeared and was statistically insignificant, researchers say. More, however, is needed to ensure that all children in the United States get adequate dental care, they add.

Roughly 50 years ago, "about 60 percent of African-American children had never been to a dentist, compared with 30 percent of white children. By 2010, this gap had completely disappeared as did the gap in yearly dental visits," said lead author Dr. Inyang Isong, an instructor in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston.

The gap was greatest among poor black children, she said. "We imagine that some of the government programs targeted to these children may have contributed to narrowing the gap," she said. These programs include Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Despite this progress, there are still many children who do not see a dentist, Isong said. "The good news is that African-American and white kids are accessing dental care at equal rates, but the bad news is that African-American kids still have higher rates of cavities."

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