Effects of early preventive dental care in Medicaid-enrolled children: Greater costs

Effects of early preventive dental care in Medicaid-enrolled children: Greater costs

Effects of early preventive dental care in Medicaid-enrolled children: Greater costs

Research out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health suggests preventive dental care provided by a dentist for children before the age of 2 enrolled in Medicaid in Alabama may lead to more care long-term. Early preventive dental care was associated with more frequent subsequent treatment for tooth decay, more visits and more spending on dental care, compared with no early preventive dental care for children, according to a study.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend children see a dentist once baby teeth begin to come in; but limited evidence is available about the effectiveness of early preventive dental care or whether primary care providers can deliver it. Despite the focus on preventive dental care, dental caries, such as tooth decay or cavities are on the rise in children under the age of 5.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, compared tooth decay-related treatment, visits and dental expenditures for children receiving preventive dental care from a dentist or primary care provider, and those receiving no preventive dental care.

Authors analyzed Medicaid data from 19,658 children in Alabama, 25.8 percent of whom received preventive dental care from a dentist before age 2.

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