First Preventive Dental Exam: Disparities in Needs, Costs & Behavioral Insights

This study investigates the predictors and outcomes of the age at which Medicaid-enrolled children receive their first preventive dental exam (AFPDE). Age at first dental check-up helps establish a dental home for the child and provides important preventive counseling for the mother. Medicaid-enrolled children are known to have less access to dental care.

Of particular interest in this study are five Medicaid subpopulations at high risk of disparities in access to dental care and resulting oral health status:

  1. Racial and ethnic minority children
  2. Rural children
  3. Children in federally designated Dental Health Professions Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
  4. Children with less access to medical care and associated well child visits
  5. Children who receive care at a Community Health Center (CHC)

Since one in four children in the U.S. are enrolled in Medicaid, this study could impact a large population of the most vulnerable children in the country. It is supported by NIDCR/NIH Challenge Grant 5RC1DE020303-02.

The project has four separate but related components:

This research is designed to help us understand the impact of earlier receipt of a first preventive dental check-up. The ultimate goal is to inform the design of an intervention with parents and providers to encourage the effective timing of children’s first preventive dental exams.