Rodrigo Chavez is All Smiles for Healthy Kids

RodrigoThe dentist office is a familiar place to 10-year-old Rodrigo. He’s been going to well-check visits since he was four and has not needed major dental treatment thanks to the Healthy Kids program. “He loves the dentist!” says his mother Gloria Sermeno. “He goes with a big smile.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that dental disease is the most chronic childhood disease. San Jose dentist Dr. Monika Levkovic sees it first hand. “People ask, ‘Do we have to treat baby teeth?’” she says. “Yes! Baby teeth are important to speech development, social issues, and they keep space for adult teeth.” She also notes that dental disease left untreated can be traumatic for children, making them afraid to go to the dentist. “Checkups every six months allow us to fix things right away,” says Dr. Levkovic. “It’s less of a problem.”

A recent study funded by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation found that the proportion of children with a dental checkup in the past six month has almost tripled as a direct result of Healthy Kids coverage. While Healthy Kids coverage provides Rodrigo with the benefits of regular dental checkups and a healthy smile, the program provides relief all its own to Sermeno. “I don’t have to wait to take him to the dentist until there are cavities or a problem that costs more,” she says. “I don’t have to worry. Just that is a benefit.