NH DHHS Report: Successes and challenges in accessing dental care

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CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire is meeting many goals in serving the oral health needs of residents yet disparities continue to exist, according to a new report from the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

New Hampshire Oral Health Data 2015 provides much needed data on the burden of oral health disease in New Hampshire, the risk and protective factors, and the capacity that exists to meet the State’s oral health needs. The report was last issued in 2010.

Overall, oral health is improving in New Hampshire. For example, between the school years ending in 2001 and 2014, the proportion of New Hampshire’s third grade students with sealants, which prevent bacteria from causing cavities, also known as caries, increased by 33 percent; during that same period, the rate of cavities experience among New Hampshire third graders decreased by 32 percent, and the rate of untreated cavities decreased by 62 percent. While the rate of cavities among third graders in New Hampshire was 35 percent in 2014, some segments of the population carried a higher burden of disease. Among students in schools where more than half of the population received Free and Reduced lunch, the rate was 53 percent; and in the northern part of the State in Coos County, the rate was as high as 56 percent.

“New Hampshire is doing well to address the oral health needs of residents, but geographic and socioeconomic disparities still exist,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of Public Health, “The data included in the report, and the disparities that are highlighted by the data, make it clear that we have more work to do to ensure that all residents have access to preventive care and to improve oral health throughout the State.”

New Hampshire has achieved or surpassed many of the targets set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy People 2020 oral health objectives. However, residents in the northern part of the State experience higher rates of dental disease, lower rates of preventive services, and a shortage of dental health professionals. Statewide, residents with lower income and/or lower educational attainment are less likely to access dental care and are more likely to experience adverse outcomes such as tooth loss. The rate of complete tooth loss among all NH adults 65 and above is 12 percent, while the rate in Coos County is 25 percent and the rate for seniors State-wide earning less than $15,000 per year is 35 percent.

To read the entire report, go to the NH Department of Health and Human Services page.

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About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!