A North Carolina Institute of Medicine task force released a new study on children's dental care in the state.
Berkeley Yorkery, a project manager with the Institute, says compared to other states, North Carolina has made strides in children's dental participation.
"About ten, 15 years ago, we were in the bottom ten states,” Yorkery says. “And now we're in the top ten. So we've done a tremendous job of increasing dental participation and educating our children and families about their dental benefits. But more could definitely be done to get children into care."
Even with that high ranking, less than half of children enrolled in Medicaid or NC Health Choice last year received preventative dental care at least once. Yorkery says messaging is part of the problem.
"We have that message about get your child to the doctor,” she says. “And we haven't been as successful with that message, ‘get your child to the dentist.’ We need to increase people's knowledge of and awareness of the need to have preventive dental care as well."
The Task forces says a few things could help fix the problem, like promoting the use of sealants on children's teeth, using primary care doctors to focus on dental health, and moving towards school-based dental health options.