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Medicaid Dental Care

Question:

I read the expansion of Medicaid has resulted in more children receiving routine dental care. Has this access to care improved the dental health in this previously underserved population group?

Answer:

Yes and no. A recent national study found the cavity rate in children ages 2-8 has been significantly reduced; as has the number of unmet treatment needs in baby (primary) teeth. The not so good news is that the cavity rate in adolescents and teens ages 8-18 has not gone down, and the unmet treatment needs for cavities in the 8-18 age group did not go down either. I was expecting with increased access to dental care in children over 8, there would have been more positive results. The study provided no explanation as to why the dental health of adolescents and teens having greater access to care through Medicaid did not improve.