If Florida were a country, we would be the 20th biggest economy in the world. Yet more than one in every five of Florida’s children lives in the full federal definition of poverty. The realities for children are numerous. For one example, Florida ranks 44th among all states for dental care. Sixty percent of Medicaid children (1.4 million) in Florida did not see a dentist. Fewer than 1 in 5 of Florida dentists accept Medicaid.
Children without dental coverage are much more likely to face health problems, and have much less chance for success. The research that shouldn’t surprise anyone tells us that those with better childhood health are more productive and depend less on public subsidies.
Florida lawmakers this session could increase dental care for Floridians by licensing dental therapists. Dental therapists complete rigorous training on a quite specific small number of dental procedures — like filling cavities — hence providing safe, high-quality care. Working under the supervision of a dentist, they can practice in community settings, like schools, bringing care directly to those who need it.
Isn’t every child owed regular dental visits? That simply seems fair — and wise.
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David Lawrence, Jr.,