AARP Eye Center
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Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Children and teens from low-income families are more vulnerable. These kids are twice as likely to have cavities as children from higher-income households. Since 2009, Future Smiles’ programs have provided vital dental health services to 150,000 needy children throughout Nevada.
The problem I’m trying to solve
I’m committed to finding equitable ways to deliver dental health care to all children that’s affordable, accessible and accountable. Tooth decay may seem like a minor disease, but it can result in serious issues, including tooth loss, trouble eating a healthy diet and even possible death from an infection. A child with dental problems may also have anxiety, fatigue, irritability and depression, causing them to withdraw from normal childhood activities and diminish their ability to learn in the classroom. This has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in impoverished neighborhoods where you have to travel to get to a dentist. It breaks my heart. All kids have the right to live a life with healthy teeth that are free from dental pain.
One way to reduce cavities in kids is to apply sealants — a type of thin protective plastic coating — to their teeth. This process can prevent over 80 percent of all cavities. But most children don’t have sealants, especially kids from low-income families. Our mobile School-Based Sealant Program goes directly to where children are most frequently — our public schools. This removes transportation barriers and avoids lost school time.