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Open Access Pediatric Dentist Density and Preventive Care Utilization for Medicaid Children

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate county-level pediatric dentist density and dental care utilization for Medicaid-enrolled children. Methods: This was a cross-sectional analysis of 604,885 zero- to 17-year-olds enrolled in the Washington State Medicaid Program for 11-12 months in 2012. The relationship between county-level pediatric dentist density, defined as the number of pediatric dentists per 10,000 Medicaid-enrolled children, and preventive dental care utilization was evaluated using linear regression models. Results: In 2012, 179 pediatric dentists practiced in 16 of the 39 counties in Washington. County-level pediatric dentist density varied from zero to 5.98 pediatric dentists per 10,000 Medicaid-enrolled children. County-level preventive dental care utilization ranged from 32 percent to 81 percent, with 62 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children utilizing preventive dental services. County-level density was significantly associated with county-level dental care utilization (Slope equals 1.67, 95 percent confidence interval equals 0.02, 3.32, P<.05). Conclusions: There is a significant relationship between pediatric dentist density and the proportion of Medicaid-enrolled children who utilize preventive dental care services. Policies aimed at improving pediatric oral health disparities should include strategies to increase the number of oral health care providers, including pediatric dentists, in geographic areas with large proportions of Medicaid-enrolled children.

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Keywords: ACCESS TO CARE; DENTAL WORKFORCE; MEDICAID; PEDIATRIC DENTIST DENSITY; PREVENTIVE DENTAL CARE UTILIZATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Private practice, Phoenix, Ariz., USA. [email protected] 2: Center for Pediatric Dentistry, at the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., USA 3: Department of Pediatric Dentistry, at the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., USA 4: Department of Oral Health Sciences, at the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., USA

Publication date: 2015-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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