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Does Preventive Care Reduce Severe Pediatric Dental Caries?
  • Published Date:

    October 29 2020

  • Source:
    Prev Chronic Dis. 2020; 17
  • Language:
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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:
    Introduction Tertiary oral health services (caries-related surgery, sedation, and emergency department visits) represent high-cost and ineffective ways to improve a child’s oral health. We measured the impact of increased Texas Medicaid reimbursements for preventive dental care on use of tertiary oral health services. Methods We used difference-in-differences models to compare the effect of a policy change among children (≤9 y) enrolled in Medicaid in Texas and Florida. Linear regression models estimated 4 outcomes: preventive care dental visit, dental sedation, emergency department use, and surgical event. Results Increased preventive care visits led to increased sedation visits (1.7 percentage points, P < .001) and decreased emergency department visits (0.3 percentage points, P < .001) for children aged 9 years or younger. We saw no significant change in dental surgical rates associated with increased preventive dental care reimbursements. Conclusion Increased access to preventive dentistry was not associated with improved long-term oral health of Medicaid-enrolled children. Policies that aim to improve the oral health of children may increase the effectiveness of preventive dentistry by also targeting other social determinants of oral health.
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