Oral Health of the Inland Empire
A Snapshot

Project VIDA by: 

Oral health is an integral part of a person’s overall health and well-being. Poor oral health can affect individuals at all life stages, from infancy to older adulthood. Tooth decay is one of the leading reasons for missed school days by young children. Timely access to preventive dental care can save individuals and the health care system millions of dollars.

• California children miss 874,000 days of school each year due to dental problems.

• Students with toothache in last 6 months were 4 times more likely to have low grade point average.

• Students’ absences due to dental problems cost CA school districts approximately $29.7 million annually.

Even though dental disease is largely preventable and treatable, it continues to be prevalent in our communities and disproportionately impacts low-income families and racial/ ethnic minorities among other vulnerable populations. Untreated tooth decay (dental caries) and periodontal diseases lead to unnecessary pain, infection, and tooth loss. They also contribute to poor quality of life, poor health outcomes, and share common risk factors with other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and poor reproductive/ birth outcomes

Continue reading to learn about the oral health of Inland Empire 

Dive deeper into one of these topics:

Understanding the Problem

Tooth decay continues to be prevalent in our region's children.

One in three Kindergartners assessed suffers from untreated tooth decay.

Several barriers and social determinants are resulting in low utilization of dental services.

Less than half the children insured by Medi-Cal used a dental service in 2016.

Many children in the region end up at the Emergency Department for preventable dental conditions. Furthermore, of all children, rates were highest among our youngest (0-5 years).

Tooth decay is preventable and a child's first visit should be by his/her first birthday, followed by annual visits. Use of preventive services by Medi-Cal children is low in our region.

Adults and older adults in our region fare worse than an average Californian, in terms of their oral health.

Disparities by Race/Ethnicity and Income are Evident

Nationally, children of Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Black origin are at a higher risk.

Although the burden of dental disease has declined over the years, disparities persist.

 Fleming, E., & Afful, J. (2018). Prevalence of Total and Untreated Dental Caries Among Youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS data brief, (307), 1-8

Systems of Care and Dental Workforce

While the Inland Empire has a strong network of dental providers, less than one in ten treats patients with Medi-Cal.

It is not all bad news! We have made significant progress over the years.

But, how can we do better? 

Oral Health Priorities for Inland Empire

Developed by the Oral Health Action Coalition - Inland Empire. Learn more here.


1. System of California Oral Health Reporting (SCOHR); Data reported includes 58% of total eligible children, who completed a Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment in 2015.

2. Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development; Data accessed and reported by the California Department of Public Health - Oral Health Program.

3. California Health and Human Services - Open Data Portal; Claims data from the Department of Health Care Services.

4. Maternal and Infant Health Assessment; Data accessed and reported by the California Department of Public Health - Oral Health Program.

5. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System; SMART City data.

6. American Dental Association; Accessed by the Center for Oral Health;data year - 2016.


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