Dental cavities are the single most common disease of childhood. Nearly one-quarter of preschool children have untreated cavities; this rate is higher for children in poverty. Regular dental visits provide an opportunity for prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of oral and craniofacial diseases and conditions. This is important for school success because children with dental pain have excessive school absences and difficulty concentrating. For these reasons, ECEAP requires and tracks dental screenings and follow-up treatment.
· In 2010-11, 45.2 percent of ECEAP children were up-to-date with dental screenings at enrollment, down from the peak of 57.9 percent in fall 2008.This may signal less access to dental care for children in poverty.
· The ECEAP dental screening completion rate steadily improved from 77.7 percent in spring of 2006 to a peak of 95.3 percent in spring 2010, then dropped to 91.6 percent in spring 2011. However, since the percentage of children who were up-to-date when they arrived this year was lower than recent years, ECEAP actually helped more children receive dental care this year than ever before -- more than 3,700 children.
· At enrollment, 88 percent of ECEAP children had dental coverage. By the end of the year, 94 percent had coverage.
· During the 2010-11 dental screenings, 1,885 ECEAP children (20.6 percent) were diagnosed as needing treatment. ECEAP providers worked closely with families to help at least 1,584 children receive this needed treatment.
DEL provides technical assistance to ECEAP contractors on improving ECEAP children's completion of dental screenings.