The Sacramento Observer

Dental Care Should Be a Reality for Our Children

October 15, 2015

Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that doesn’t ring more true than with dental care.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 40 percent of children have decay by the time they reach kindergarten.

The importance of oral hygiene doesn’t stop at decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.  It can have profound impacts on our health as research has found that the inflammation from periodontal, or gum disease can put us at a greater risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 14% of all children aged 2-8 have untreated tooth decay.  But the numbers are significantly higher for both African-American children and Hispanic children whose rates are 21% and 19% respectively. African-American children and Hispanic children have double the rate of tooth decay of white children (10%).

So, what is going on?

More than 5.1 million California children receive dental care coverage through the Denti-Cal program.  But for nearly 60% of these children, that coverage is a cruel myth.  They might as well not be covered at all because they are not receiving any form of dental care.

I have been working hard to fix this broken system by exposing the reality that too many Californians on Denti-Cal are unable to obtain dental care. In the State Assembly, I chaired a hearing on Denti-Cal in Sacramento County where a pediatric dentist described why seeing patients as charity cases was easier and less expensive than accepting their Denti-Cal. Last December, the California State Auditor reported too few dentists accepted Denti-Cal, few people on Denti-Cal received any dental care, and the state did not determine if access to dental care was adequate as required by law.  This year I asked the Little Hoover Commission to study how to fix Denti-Cal.

I am continuing to hold the state department administering the Denti-Cal program, the Department of Health Care Services, accountable and working to ensure the state keeps its commitments to patients who depend on Denti-Cal for their oral health.  I want to ensure that children in the Sacramento region are getting the dental care they need to stay healthy.

For help in Sacramento, please call the Sacramento County Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) office at (916) 875-7151.  The CHDP Program can work with you to find a dentist and a doctor for your child, schedule an exam and offer information about other resources that you need to keep your child healthy.

For help in West Sacramento, please call the Salud Clinic at (916) 403-2900.  The Salud Clinic offers comprehensive health care services including dental care.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or need assistance. You can reach my office by phone at (916) 651-1529, or by email at

February 21, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Dr. Richard Pan, a former UC Davis faculty member and Director of the UC Davis Pediatric Residency Program, made the following statement regarding the selection of Gary May, Ph.D. as UC Davis Chancellor:

Senate Bill 267 to foster public trust in our political system by providing cost-effective oversight

February 9, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing the Sacramento region, announced today that he and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty have introduced a measure to allow the City of Sacramento to contract with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to investigate and enforce the City’s campaign finance ordinance. 

SB 947 will focus staff time on moving families into the workforce and cut transportation expenses

September 29, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 947 to reduce red tape in the application process for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program was signed by the Governor today. 

Since 2009, applicants for the CalFresh program, which offers food to families in need, have had the opportunity to be interviewed over the telephone.  Conversely, applicants for the CalWORKs program must be interviewed in-person, even in counties that would rather conduct interviews over the phone to improve efficiencies and better utilize limited staff time.