Bridging gap in youth dental care | Health News

Healthy smiles were shared on Monday at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis [BGCSTL] location at Grand and Dodier. 

CareSTL Health and BGCSTL have partnered to provide dental services to members at the location, where children and teens can receive routine dental exams, cleanings, x-rays, sealants, and fillings.

State Rep. LaKeysha Bosley and Alderman Brandon Bosley, both former BGCSTL members, said the clinic will provide badly needed dental health care on the city’s northside.

“It’s a joy,” state Rep. Bosley said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the clinic.

“Health is wealth. This clinic will provide dental health care where it is needed.” She added that the clinic will also provide the opportunity “to have people who look like us take care of us.”

Alderman Bosley said he had his teeth examined and cleaned as a child at the same BGCSTL site, “and I look ford to bringing my son here as well.”

Indigo Sams, BGCSTL vice president of operations, said she looks forward to the clinic “cleaning thousands of teeth.’

“This is important to health care needs of all kids in this neighborhood,” she said.

BGCSTL members can receive dental care, teeth cleanings at the Herbert Hoover location! To make an appointment for a child or teen, visit

Once a form is completed, the CareSTL team will make contact to schedule an appointment. Missouri residents are eligible, there are no out of pocket costs to parents or guardians, and most insurance is accepted. Insurance enrollment assistance can also be provided if needed.

“We are excited about this reopening,” said Karen Jones, CareSTL board vice president.

“This partnership is very important to us. It will bring more dental health care to north St. Louis.”

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Oral Health Division statistics from 2011 to 2016 there are several oral health disparities in children and teens ages 2 to 19.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, about 33% of Latino and 28% of non-Hispanic Black children have had cavities in their primary teeth, compared with 18% of non-Hispanic White children.

For children ages 12 to 19, nearly 70% of Latino and Black children have had cavities in their permanent teeth, compared with 54% of non-Hispanic White children.

For children ages 2 to 5 years, 17% of children from low-income households have untreated cavities in their primary teeth, three times the percentage of children from higher-income households.

By ages 12 to 19, 23% of children from low-income families have untreated cavities in their permanent teeth, twice that of children from higher-income households.

Children aged 6 to 19 years from low-income households are about 15% less likely to get sealants and twice as likely to have untreated cavities compared with children from higher-income households.

An “insurance gap” also hinders African Americans from receiving annual dental care visits.

A Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the College of Dental Medicine study surveyed African American adults with recent oral health symptoms, including toothaches and gum disease.

The findings provide insights into why disparities persist even among those with dental insurance and suggest strategies to removing barriers to dental care.

“The lack of affordable dental care and insurance coverage lead many of our participants to postpone or do without dental treatment, often for years. But these untreated symptoms inevitably get more severe, resulting in people requiring treatment in the emergency department at a much greater public expense than if they had been provided dental treatment when the symptoms first occurred,” the study’s authors wrote.

“Given the research evidence on the relationship between untreated oral symptoms and systemic health problems such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, providing better oral health treatment may not only reduce suffering but also may prevent expensive physical health problems in the future.”

Flint Fowler, BGCSTL president said in a statement BGCSTL “is grateful to CareSTL Health for ensuring the care of children in the region is a priority.”

 “Regular access to oral health care is critical to the overall well-being of children. The Club is proud to be a safe place for kids to grow and learn while providing a supportive environment to receive this dental care.”

Angela Clabon, CareSTL Health president and CEO, said in a release the clinic is part of its mission “to make healthcare more accessible for families.’




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