In 2011, Hawaii received an F grade in The Pew Charitable Trusts’ fact sheet on the state of
children’s dental health. It only met one of the eight policy benchmarks stipulated by the non-
governmental organization on the improvement of children’s dental health.
It was the worst overall performer in the country and the District of Columbia because of its
disuse of proven preventive strategies like a school sealant program and water fluoridation.
In 2013, the Aloha State saw improvements in the number of dental visits of children with
Medicaid coverage at 57 percent, nine percent higher than the national estimates. However,
Hawaii suffered a decline in the dental visits of children with private dental benefits coverage,
only garnering 48 percent which is two percent lower than the 2005 figure and 16 percent lower
than the national estimates.
The figures are much alarming in Hawaii adults with private dental benefits coverage which is
only at 41 percent. This number is lower by five percent than 2005 and 17 percent lower than the
Still, Hawaii has a higher number of dentists per 100,000 population with 75.2 percent compared
to the 60.5 percent nationally in 2013.
The percentage of Medicaid children who received a sealant on a permanent molar in 2013 is
also lower compared to the 14 percent nationally. Hawaii has only ten percent of its children
ages six to 14 who received a sealant.
The Aloha State has the smallest percentage of the population on community water fluoridation
system in 2012 with only 11 percent.
In 2012, more than 3,000 emergency room visits were reported due to avertible dental problems
which are higher by 67 percent from 2006 and a 22 percent increase from the national figures.
The Hawaii State Department of Health reported in its Hawaii Oral Health: Key Findings in
2015 that the state lacked an ongoing and routine system for the assessment of its residents’ oral
health. It also does not have a public health program.
There are also substantial dental health disparities in Hawaii with low-income members of the
population are more probable in having dental problems and less probably in seeing a dentist
Twelve percent of low-income adults also described their mouth and teeth to be in poor
condition. Moreover, 37 percent of low-income adults said the appearance of their mouth and
teeth affects their ability to interview for a job.
The State Department of Health of Hawaii recognized the need to acquire and employ an oral
health surveillance system for high-quality and specific data on public health action and program