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Oral health is an integral part of general health, yet often overlooked by patients, practitioners, and policymakers. Though oral health in the United States has improved over the past few decades, great disparities still exist in oral health status, access to services, and financing of care. Dental caries, tooth decay, is the most common chronic disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma.

Children in poverty have twice the odds of having tooth decay, twice the extent of decay, twice the unmet treatment need, twice the pain experience, but half the access to dental care than their more affluent peers.