Chicago to expand kids' dental program

On May 6, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that would expand that city's current dental program in Chicago public schools to all schools within Chicago's borders.

There will be no cost to taxpayers as the "dentists who provide the services would bear all of the costs, ultimately billing Medicaid for the care," according to a press release by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

"Mayor Emanuel understands that oral health is crucial to public health, especially for children. It's not a side issue," stated Julie Morita, MD, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, in the release. "This ordinance gives Chicago the opportunity to improve dental care at no cost to taxpayers. We should seize that opportunity."

More than half of Chicago's third-graders have had a cavity, and 30% have untreated decay, according to the mayor's office. The overall dental health of third-graders has improved over the last five years, "thanks in large part to the city's program ensuring dental care for some 115,000 low-income [public school] students."

This program entails sending mobile clinics to schools to provide services such as exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants.

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