The Importance of Children’s Dental Health: Healthy Kids are California’s Next Generation of Leaders

The Importance of Children’s Dental Health: Healthy Kids are California’s Next Generation of Leaders

Every year, California invests billions of dollars in children’s education funding and programs. However, many people don’t realize that poor dental health has been linked to poor performance in the classroom, which can be especially devastating for low-income kids. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and it’s important we highlight the need to prioritize access to dental health for our young students.

According to a 2017 California Department of Public Health study Status of Oral Health in California: Oral Disease Burden and Prevention, dental problems are keeping California students out of class an estimated 874,000 days a year and costing schools nearly $30 million in lost attendance-based funding. As California educators struggle to boost student achievement, dental conditions are holding students back, especially those from disadvantaged neighborhoods with a lack of access to dental care.

Since children with tooth decay are 12 times more likely to miss school, negatively impacting student achievement, we must do what we can as early as possible to improve children’s oral health. That’s why many educational institutions and private companies are stepping up to help fill that dental care gap by providing free dental care to young, vulnerable students in need throughout the state.

One prime example of the private, public and educational sectors coming together to address this important issue is a multi-year collaboration between the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, the California Teachers Association (CTA), California Resources Corporation (CRC) and nonprofit DentalCare for Learning (DCFL). Through this partnership, USC has been able to provide free mobile dental services to students in some of California’s lowest-income neighborhoods like Taft in Kern County and South Los Angeles. At these annual mobile dental clinics, USC student dentists conduct screenings, cleanings and free dental services for low-income students and their families in specially equipped, state of the art dental vans. To date, this partnership has provided more than 7,000 free dental procedures for students and family members throughout California.

To see the mobile dental clinic in action, please watch and share this video (English or Spanish) featuring the latest dental clinic recently held at Taft Union High School in Kern County.

You can find more USC Dental Mobile Clinic resources at

About the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Since 1897, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC has educated thousands of the world’s most talented and trusted dental professionals. Ostrow is an international leader in dental and craniofacial research and has served as a pioneer in serving populations who lack access to dental care. Outside of the U.S. military, Ostrow has the largest fleet of mobile dental clinics, which regularly provide treatment to underserved populations across Southern California.

About California Resources Corporation (CRC)
California Resources Corporation is the largest oil and natural gas exploration and production company in California on a gross-operated basis. The Company operates its world-class resource base exclusively within the State of California, applying integrated infrastructure to gather, process and market its production. Using advanced technology, California Resources Corporation focuses on safely and responsibly supplying affordable energy for California by Californians.

About California Teachers Association (CTA)
The California Teachers Association (CTA), initially established in 1863, is one of the largest and most powerful teachers’ unions in California politics. The CTA exists to protect and promote the well-being of its members; to improve the conditions of teaching and learning; to advance the cause of free, universal, and quality public education; to ensure that the human dignity and civil rights of all children and youth are protected; and to secure a more just, equitable, and democratic society.   

About DentalCare for Learning (DCFL)
DentalCare for Learning (DCFL) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that has been formed to expand the delivery of free mobile dental care to underprivileged students and their families in California. DCFL is excited to expand the successful efforts made by the partnership between the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, California Resources Corporation and the California Teachers Association to bring free mobile dental clinics and free dental care to low-income children and their families in even more schools and communities throughout California.