More than 8.5 million U.S. children are expected to receive dental coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) within five years.

However, only one of five Americans know that children’s dental services are one of the 10 “essential health benefits” included in the health reform law, according to a recent survey by the Children’s Dental Health Project.

Coverage for children’s dental services continues to be available through the Medicaid program, including programs that existed prior to the ACA.

Informing Medicaid-eligible families of the new dental benefit, and stressing that dental health as an essential part of one’s overall health, remains a community-wide challenge.

In Pierce County, numerous groups, including PCOHC member organizations, are working to educate and assist residents apply for medical and dental benefits through the state-run web site called the Washington Healthplanfinder.  Given the results from the national survey, local advocates and dental professionals still face hurdles sharing news about the ACA’s oral health coverage for children and the importance of utilizing those benefits to improve oral health community-wide.