Kids in Colorado miss nearly 8 million hours of school each year because of toothaches. Children from low-income families are most at risk for tooth decay, the most common childhood disease, with untreated cavities affecting 19 percent of kindergartners in the state’s poorest schools.
Many if not most of these children are eligible for Medicaid dental benefits. But most don’t make it to the dentist. Only a quarter of Colorado counties met a 2010 state goal of getting at least 44 percent of Medicaid-eligible residents under age 19 in for dental treatment, according to an I-News analysis of state records.Without that treatment, many kids in pain end up using expensive emergency room services or undergoing multiple dental procedures while under anesthesia.