North Carolina Physician-Based Preventive Oral Health Services Improve Access And Use Among Young Medicaid Enrollees
Author: Ashley M. Kranz, Jessica Lee, Kimon Divaris, A. Diane Baker, William Vann
To combat disparities in oral health and access to dental care among infants and toddlers, most state Medicaid programs now reimburse physician-based preventive oral health services such as fluoride varnish applications. We used geospatial data to examine the distribution of dental and medical Medicaid providers of pediatric oral health services throughout North Carolina to determine if these services have improved access to care for Medicaid enrollees younger than age three. We then used claims data to examine the association between distance from these practices and use of dental services for a cohort of approximately 1,000 young children. Among one hundred counties, four counties had no physician-based preventive oral health services, and nine counties had no dental practice. While children who lived farther from the nearest dental practice were less likely to make dental visits, distance from physician-based preventive oral health services did not predict utilization. For young Medicaid enrollees, oral health services provided in medical offices can improve access and increase utilization.