This information is up-to-date as of April 6, 2017. In 2015, the Medicaid programs in Delaware and New Hampshire began to compensate pediatric health professionals for tooth decay prevention services. In 2017, Indiana became the final state to compensate pediatric health professionals for this oral health service.
Young children see primary medical care providers earlier and more frequently than they see dentists. This is particularly true for children in low-income families, who face persistent barriers to accessing dental care.
For these reasons, the medical office is an ideal place to deliver a set of preventive dental services—including the application of fluoride varnish.
By compensating physicians through Medicaid for providing valuable dental care intervention, states can help reduce the tremendous access barriers low-income children face when trying to obtain much needed oral health care services. Pew and the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage all states to adopt this reimbursement policy.
Twenty-eight percent of children aged two to five have had cavities and, of these children, 73 percent were in need of treatment. Fluoride varnish offers the following benefits:
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have Medicaid programs that pay medical providers for preventative dental care. In North Carolina, a leader in the field, these services reached 60,000 children under age 4 in 2007.
For more information, see the 2009 issue brief from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) as well as presentations from Pew’s September 2009 webcast on the importance of engaging medical providers in caring for young children’s oral health needs. Information is also available from your state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics