The prolonged recession hasn’t just clobbered the Central Valley’s financial well-being. The decaying economy has also had a rotten effect on the teeth of area residents.
“A loss of jobs has resulted in a loss of dental insurance for many,” said Deborah Horlak, dental hygiene director at University of the Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in Stockton.
“People have greater dental needs now than ever before, but if the choice is between buying food and paying bills or receiving dental care, many will forego treatment until they are in pain.” Budget cuts have aggravated the situation. In 2009, 3 million adults were left without dental care when the state eliminated most Denti-Cal services. All $3 million in funding for the California Children’s Dental Disease Prevention Program also was cut, removing school access to dental care for low-income children.