Bills advocate for Pre-K dental screenings

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 4:15 PM EST
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Legislators, dentists, dental hygienists, public health officials, children's health and education leaders are advocating for funding to get dental screenings for Michigan children entering school, according to a release sent to News 10.

The money will support House Bill 4223 which is expected to improve the ability of Michigan children to succeed in the classroom by treating dental issues that can be painful, impacting children's learning and causing them to be absent from school, the release states.

Under the bill, all children beginning kindergarten in the state of Michigan would have a dental screening in addition to the hearing and vision screenings that have already been required for decades.

“Dental health and a child’s success in school are connected,” said state Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), lead sponsor of HB 4223. “Children nationwide miss 51 million hours of school per year due to dental health issues – many of which are preventable. HB 4223 can improve the ability of children to learn and succeed in school, but funding is needed to implement the screenings.”

HB 4223 is sponsored by 14 Republican and Democrat lawmakers.

“This funding has overwhelming support across party lines. We, as Republicans and Democrats, are working together to fund this legislation to improve the dental health and classroom readiness of thousands of Michigan children,” VanSingel said.

President of the Michigan Dental Association and dentist Dr. Margaret Gingrich said that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. In fact, she said it is five times more common than asthma.

About 37% of children ages 6 to 9 have dental cavities, but the number increases to 69% for children who live in poverty, according to the release.

“Nearly half of all children entering kindergarten have had a least one cavity, and 50% of first graders have dental decay,” Dr. Gingrich said. “A dental screening will help to identify oral health problems that can affect learning in at-risk children who are not accessing dental care before they start school and set them up with healthy habits for a lifetime.”

News 10 will keep you updated on if the bills go anywhere.

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