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Report: Poor Access To Kids' Dental Care Costing Fla. Taxpayers

Florida, along with most U.S. states, is failing to prevent tooth decay in children in a key way. That’s according to a report the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts released on Tuesday.

And, the group says, not having widespread use of protective tooth coatings, or sealants, for low-income children is driving up public healthcare costs.

Pew graded Florida a D in the study. Ratings are based on whether states have dental-sealant programs in low-income-area schools. Pew also looked at whether dental hygienists are allowed to apply the sealants without a dentist. Florida law changed in 2011 to allow that, but Florida Dental Hygiene Association lawyer Trevor Mask said, the law still needs another tweak to allow Medicaid to reimburse for sealants applied by hygienists.

“We need to fix that problem, which will allow more of the school-based sealant programs that the hygienists are involved in to kind of get off the ground and up and running," he said.

Mask said the association will be lobbying the legislature to make the change this year.

Among the states, Florida was one of 15 to get a D for dental-sealants access. There were only five A-rated states. And  17 states got a C.