Low-income children and adolescents continue to bear a heavy burden of untreated pain and complications from dental disease.
To explore why proposals to remediate this problem have not gained traction, the authors interviewed experts involved in efforts to improve the oral health status of low-income and minority children during the past decade. Key informants believe that success requires addressing both consumer demand and provider supply factors. They especially cite the lack of public outcry for more accessible oral health care and the undervaluing of oral health, relative to medical care. Informants were cautiously optimistic that strategies such as health literacy and outreach campaigns, which have helped increase children’s physical activity and improve their diets, offer unexplored opportunities for progress.