Health Policy

Factors affecting age at first dental exam for Medicaid-enrolled children seen at Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Kuthy, R.A.; Pendharkar, B.; Momany, E.T.; Jones, M.P.; Askelson, N.M.; Chi, D.L.; Wehby, G.L.; Damiano, P.C.
2013 May-Jun


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to estimate age at first dental visit (FDV) and identify variables predicting earlier visits for Medicaid-enrolled children at Iowa Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

METHODS: Statewide Medicaid claims data were used to draw a random sample of children who received their FDV prior to six years old at a FQHC, were Medicaid-enrolled within the first two months of life, and remained continuously enrolled over the study period. Forty children from each of five FQHCs had their dental charts abstracted and merged with other Medicaid records and birth certificate data. The logarithmic age at FDV was regressed against several predictor variables.

RESULTS: Mean and median ages for FDV were 25.6 and 23 months old, respectively. When controlling for other variables, there were differences in FDV age according to: mother's marital status (P=.04); whether the child had any medical well-child visits (MCVs) at a FQHC prior to the FDV (P<.001); and which FQHC the child visited. Only approximately 28 percent of these children, however, had any MCV at the FQHC.

CONCLUSIONS: Medicaid-enrolled children who visited Federally Qualified Health Centers for their first dental visit were seen at an earlier age than previously recorded for such health centers (mean=four years old). Children who also received any medical well-child visits at FQHCs were more likely to have earlier FDVs.