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Comparing medical and dental providers of oral health services on early dental caries experience.

Kranz AM, Rozier RG, Preisser JS, Stearns SC, Weinberger M, Lee JY. Comparing medical and dental providers of oral health services on early dental caries experience. American journal of public health. 2014 Jul 1; 104(7):e92-9.

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OBJECTIVES: Most state Medicaid programs reimburse nondental primary care providers (PCPs) for providing preventive oral health services to young children. We examined the association between who (PCP, dentist, or both) provides these services to Medicaid enrollees before age 3 years and oral health at age 5 years. METHODS: We linked North Carolina Medicaid claims (1999-2006) to oral health surveillance data (2005-2006). Regression models estimated oral health status (number of decayed, missing, and filled primary teeth) and untreated disease (proportion of untreated decayed teeth), with adjustment for relevant characteristics and by using inverse-probability-of-treatment weights to address confounding. RESULTS: We analyzed data for 5235 children with 2 or more oral health visits from a PCP, dentist, or both. Children with multiple PCP or dentist visits had a similar number of overall mean decayed, missing, and filled primary teeth in kindergarten, whereas children with only PCP visits had a higher proportion of untreated decayed teeth. CONCLUSIONS: The setting and provider type did not influence the effectiveness of preventive oral health services on children's overall oral health. However, children having only PCP visits may encounter barriers to obtaining dental treatment.

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