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An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

Are Area Children Getting Necessary Dental Care?
Monday. August 20, 2007

Axler, Francine
(215) 985-2521


August 20, 2007

Contact: Francine Axler (215-985-2521 or



Are area children getting necessary dental care?

Local survey shows more children going to dentist, but cost still a prohibiting factor for others.

PHILADELPHIA — A recent report released by the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC) found that about 89,000 (12.1%) children in Southeastern Pennsylvania were not examined or treated by a dentist in the past year and that disparities in care exist across the SEPA region.  

The report, “Use and Affordability of Dental Care for Children in SEPA,” includes data from PHMC’s 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey. According to the report, 87.9% of children in SEPA aged 4 to 17 were examined or treated by a dentist at least once in the past year. However, 12.1% (approximately 89,000) of SEPA children did not receive a dental exam in 2006. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children receive at least two dental check-ups every year.

PHMC¹s data also show several disparities in dental visits among certain age, socioeconomic and racial/ethnic  populations in SEPA. Specifically:


  • Children in Philadelphia were least likely to receive a dental exam in the past year compared to children in Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties. Percentages of children who did not receive an exam by county: Philadelphia 18.2%; Delaware 11.4%; Bucks 8.8%, Montgomery 7.3%; and Chester 5.5%.
  • Latino and African America children were less likely to have had a dental exam in the last year than white children. 20.0% of Latino children and 19.4% of African-American children did not receive an exam compared to 7.4% of white children.
  • Uninsured children were less likely to receive a dental exam than insured children. 43.3% of uninsured children did not have an exam compared to 10.8% of insured children.
  • Poor children were less likely than non-poor children to have had a dental exam in the last year. 23.0% of poor children did not receive an exam while on 10.1% of non-poor children did not receive a dental exam.


Also according to the report, nearly one in five children did not receive a dental exam or treatment in the previous year due to the cost or because they lacked dental insurance. Additionally, nearly a quarter of children did not have a dental exam because their parent or caregiver felt they did not need one.


“Although more children are receiving routine dental care, the percentage of children who needed dental care but did not receive it due to cost has increased over the past few years,” said Francine Axler, PHMC senior research associate. “There is definitely room for improvement regarding the utility and affordability of oral health services for children in our region. Efforts to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of preventive dental care visits may also be necessary.”

For more information on report findings, please contact Allegra Gordon, or visit

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PHMC is a non-profit, public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, businesses and other community-based organizations. Conducted every two years, PHMC’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey is the largest local health survey in the country and provides extensive, timely information on more than 13,000 residents in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties. The survey is conducted by PHMC’s Community Health Data Base Project, which is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The William Penn Foundation, The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and a variety health, government, nonprofit, and academic organizations.