Fluoride Action Network

Thousands of low-income children and adults in Illinois suffer from untreated dental disease.

Source: Pioneer Press | By Lauri Frichtl, Executive Director, Illinois Head Start
Posted on May 21st, 2009
Location: United States, Illinois

NOTE FROM FAN: FLUORIDATION is state mandated in Illinois. The most recent statistics state that 98.9% of the population on community water systems receive fluoridated water.


Title: Support Bill HB 388 for dental care

Thousands of low-income children and adults in Illinois suffer from untreated dental disease. They can’t eat or sleep properly, do their best at school or work or smile and are at risk for other serious health problems. All because of a disease that could easily have been prevented and could easily be treated.

We applaud Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-24th, for introducing legislation that would fund much needed improvements to Illinois’ dental care system, dramatically increasing the number of people receiving dental care, through a modest increase in the sales tax on soft drinks.

Under an amendment to HB 388, revenues generated from a 5 percent statewide soft drink sales tax would fund dental clinics in underserved areas and increase funding for Medicaid dental coverage. Illinois has among the lowest rates in the nation for government funded dental care. As a result we face an oral health care crisis.

Dental clinics have closed and services have been sharply reduced, all while the need for government-funded dental care has dramatically increased due to the economic downturn and massive job loss. Illinois currently has just one clinic per 8,400 children who rely on government insurance.

On average, each American drinks 53 gallons of soda a year, and the consumption of soft drinks in general has increased 500 percent in the past 50 years. Soft drinks have no nutritional value and pose many oral and overall health risks, including enamel loss and obesity.

By taking advantage of a 50 percent federal match, this increase in sales tax will generate as much as $91 million for oral health care programs. Enough to help millions of children and adults gain access to much needed dental services.

HB 388 will help end a lot of needless suffering among the most vulnerable Illinoisans. I urge you to tell your legislator to support this bill. The future of healthy smiles depends on it.