Schuyler Center has launched a campaign to improve dental health in the state of New York.  Keep NY Smiling will focus on creating stronger State-level policies to protect and promote oral health and foster local partnerships to demonstrate that communities can achieve measurable improvements in dental health through evidence-based prevention.

Tooth decay remains the most common chronic childhood disease, despite the fact that it is largely preventable. The pain and suffering endured by a child with dental disease can impact their ability to learn and grow, and may even impact their speech development.  The problem doesn’t end with childhood; adults with decayed or missing teeth are less likely to get or keep a job, and poor oral health in adults has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.  But despite the terrible human cost and the significant health costs associated with dental disease, oral health rarely garners the same attention as other health issues.

This issue impacts us all. A statewide oral health survey revealed one in four New York third-graders has untreated decay.  The problem is more prevalent among the disadvantaged: that same oral health survey found that children from low-income families in our state are more likely to have untreated decay than others.

It is vitally important to increase preventive measures, coverage of and access to dental care among underserved children and families in our communities. After all, investing in the prevention of tooth decay in children will help maintain health as they enter adulthood and grow older and will ultimately benefit the State in lower dental treatment costs.

Please check out our first policy brief on this important issue.  Additional briefs in the coming months will outline evidence-based prevention strategies that can reduce the burden of disease in the State.  This fall we will present a set of actions New York can take to improve the oral health of all our citizens.

The good news is that tooth decay is largely preventable.  Follow our work as we help reduce the burden of dental disease in New York.