Health Policy

Are general dentists' practice patterns and attitudes about treating Medicaid-enrolled preschool age children related to dental school training?

Cotton, K.T.; Seale, N.S.; Kanellis, M.J.; Damiano, P.C.; Bidaut-Russell, M.; McWhorter, A.G.
2001 Jan-Feb


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study were to investigate the willingness of general practitioners to provide dental care for preschool-aged children, and to explore the relationship between dental school experiences and practitioners' attitudes about treating Medicaid-enrolled children 3 years of age and younger.

METHODS: A survey was mailed to 3,559 randomly selected general dentists in Texas. Respondents were asked to answer questions about their willingness to provide specified dental procedures for children of different ages, their dental school experiences with pediatric dentistry and whether these experiences were hands-on, lecture or no training, and their attitudes concerning treating Medicaid-enrolled children 3 years of age or younger. Associations between attitudes about treating Medicaid-enrolled children and dental school experiences were determined.

RESULTS: The response rate was 26%. Almost all respondents were willing to provide routine procedures such as an examination (95%) and prophylaxis (94%) for children 5 years or younger. However, as children became younger and procedures more difficult, the number of general dentists willing to provide treatment decreased. The level of dental school training was significantly associated with the attitudes of general dentists about providing dental care for Medicaid-enrolled preschool-aged children (P < or = 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Identification of factors associated with general dentists' willingness to see young children may improve access by increasing the number who will provide care for preschool-aged children.