A Gap in the Mouth

Laird Harrison


July 26, 2013

In This Article

Success in North Carolina

As an example of how such a program can work, Dr. Krol cites North Carolina's Into the Mouths of Babes. One study of the program found that children who got fluoride varnish, counseling, and dental assessments at least 4 times from their primary care providers were 17% less likely to have gotten fillings and other treatment for tooth decay at 6 years of age.[11] In addition, these children were less likely to be hospitalized for caries.

Such programs may face some changes with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The most significant effect on oral health coverage by nondental providers might be that ACA requires all new insurance plans to cover oral health risk assessment, fluoride supplements, and referrals to dentists at no additional cost, said Colin Reusch of the Children's Dental Health Project.

The ACA also could expand the number of children with dental coverage overall. As originally passed, it included measures to expand the number of oral health providers and to provide public education on oral health. However, funding for those provisions remains in doubt.

So the need for pediatric care providers to attend to their patients' oral health needs will remain.


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