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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Oral Health Coalition says its oral health report card shows the state needs improvement in dental care.

When compared to the nation’s performance on 13 key oral health indicators, Oklahoma scored a “D” on its oral health report card. The report card provides a framework for discussion on the challenges various Oklahoma populations face in accessing dental care.

The 13 indicators reflect the most recent data available in each category.

Key findings about children include:

  • 16 percent of children ages 1-3 have received a preventive dental care visit
  • 49 percent of children ages 1-20 have received a preventive dental care visit
  • 66 percent of third graders have treated or untreated tooth decay
  • 25 percent of third graders have dental sealants on permanent molars

Key findings about adults include:

  • 58 percent of ages 18-64 visited the dentist in the last year
  • 43 percent of ages 65+ have lost six or more teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease
  • 35 percent of pregnant women had their teeth cleaned during pregnancy

“In Oklahoma in particular, there is this reality that oral health and oral health care is not seen as an important part of overall health and health care,” said Marsha W. Beatty, chair of the Oklahoma Oral Health Coalition and assistant professor of research at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry.

“This report card illustrates the gravity of oral health neglect in our state,” said Terrisa Singleton, secretary of the Oklahoma Oral Health Coalition and director of the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Foundation. “It illustrates the need to continue educating Oklahomans about the importance of receiving regular preventive care from a dentist.”

On August 21, OOHC in cooperation with the Delta Dental of Oklahoma Foundation has scheduled a forum to provide dental, medical and public health professionals, oral health safety net organizations, policymakers, funders and others the opportunity to further explore the oral health challenges in Oklahoma, the impact of those challenges and potential solutions.

 The forum is free of charge, but pre-registration is required.