The Number One Childhood Health Epidemic

A Crisis in Dental Care

While local hospitals in the area have made an effort to provide dental surgery to low-income families on a below-cost basis, hospitals are forced or compelled to reduce the availability of these services due to the financial strain of providing the services. Treatment in these hospitals is always subject to competing demands for limited operating room space.

The result is a rapidly growing number of children awaiting dental surgery in the five-county area. Over recent years, the situation has reached the point of crisis.

Access to Care is Desperately Needed

  • More than 20,000 children in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Napa and Marin Counties are at risk for ECC.
  • Every year, more than 2,000 children in our region have tooth decay so severe that they require anesthesia to receive dental treatment.
  • Kids require anesthesia when they have multiple cavities, are too young or scared to sit still for treatment, or have developmental disabilities.
  • Families without insurance cannot afford hospital dentistry, which can cost $3,000 - $12,000.
  • Local families enrolled in Medi-Cal often travel 8 hours round-trip to reach dental hospitals that accept their insurance.
  • The waiting list for subsidized treatment is long, ranging from two months to a year.


America's Silent Epidemic

  • The 2000 Surgeon General's report on dental health identified ECC as a "silent epidemic” of dental and oral diseases, and called for a national effort to improve oral health among all Americans.
  • The severity of untreated tooth decay in children has reached a national audience. MSNBC and ABC News have covered tragic stories about families lacking dental insurance altogether, or being unable to find timely treatment because they are on Medi-Cal. In some extreme cases, children have even died after the infections around the untreated teeth reached the brain.


Read More about the "Silent Epidemic"

Press Democrat: Dental Care Called a Health Care Crisis

Sonoma County Health Assement: 2011 - 2014 Full Report

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: Healthy Smiles Healthy Kids