The Oral Health Forum, a partner of Heartland Alliance, today released its “Healthy Smiles, Healthy Growth” study, which indicates that oral decay and obesity continue to pose significant health problems to Illinois children.
“Around 3,000 third grade children in our state are sitting in the classroom with a toothache or an abscess,” said Dr. Alejandra Valencia, director of the Oral Health Forum. “More than half of Illinois third graders had experienced decay. One in three is either overweight or obese, with Illinois’ minority and low-income children most deeply affected.”
The report also revealed positive trends. Today, approximately 50 percent of Illinois third graders have dental sealants – a rate that has nearly doubled over the last 10 years. Access to dental sealants, a preventive measure has increased among all racial/ethnic group and income levels, but obesity and decay continue to be significant challenges.
“Oral health is a key component in the overall health and well-being of children. This study proves the positive impact of good oral health practices,” said Heather Alderman, president of the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation. “We urge communities to work strategically to expand both children's access to oral health services as well as education about the importance of oral health practices.”
The Oral Health Forum, formerly known as the Chicago Community Oral Health Forum, is a community-centered, grass-roots initiative committed to improving oral health programs and services for all Chicago residents through education, assessment, policy/program development, and collaboration. The forum promotes cooperation, communication, and concerted action among organizations dedicated to eliminating oral health disparities.