“A crown? But she’s not even five,” I responded to the dentist in disbelief as I sheepishly wrapped my arms around my daughter. We brush morning and night with fluoridated toothpaste, have regular, preventive dental appointments, and she had four fluoride varnish applications before the age of 3. I work for Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF) and understanding oral health — particularly children’s oral health — is literally my job! 


Driving home I couldn’t help but think about the oral health disparity statistics that I study every day.  Nearly 41% of Hispanic/Latino kindergartners have cavities versus 23.4% of their white peers. And even with a higher percentage of lower-income children having dental insurance, their oral health outcomes are startingly worse with a 45.4% cavity rate versus 14.9% in children with higher incomes.

In reflecting on these sobering statistics, I first need to recognize my privilege, which is by design. I hold privilege as white, middle income, dentally insured, and with access to a dental provider (that looks like me and speaks my language) within a mile of my home. Yet statistically, how is it that my daughter — who inherited my same privilege and protective factors — needs a crown at the age of four? 

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