Disparities in Preventive Dental Care Among Children in Georgia
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Disparities in Preventive Dental Care Among Children in Georgia

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:
    Introduction We compared access to preventive dental care among low-income children eligible for public dental insurance to access among children with private dental insurance and/or high family income (>400% of the federal poverty level) in Georgia, and the effect of policies toward increasing access to dental care for low-income children. Methods We used multiple sources of data (eg, US Census, Georgia Board of Dentistry) to estimate, by census tract, measures of preventive dental care access in 2015 for children aged 0 to 18 years. Measures were percentage of met need, 1-way travel distance to a dentist, and scarcity of dentists. We used an optimization model to estimate access, quantify disparities, and evaluate policies. Results About 1.5 million children were eligible for public insurance; 600,000 had private insurance and/or high family income. Across census tracts, average met need was 59% for low-income children and 96% for high-income children; for rural census tracts, these values were 33% and 84%, respectively. The average 1-way travel distance for all census tracts was 3.7 miles for high-income and/or privately insured children and 17.2 miles for low-income children; for rural census tracts, these values were 11.6 and 32.9 miles, respectively. Increasing dentists’ acceptance of public insurance–eligible children increased met need more in rural areas than in urban areas. To achieve 100% met need in rural tracts, however, an 80% participation rate among dentists would be required. Conclusion Across census tracts, high-income children had better access to preventive dental care than low-income children had. Identifying tracts with disparities in access could result in more efficient allocation of public health dental resources.
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