Washington State has a reason to smile as the nation’s leader in the percentage of babies and preschoolers from low-income families getting dental care.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 54% of Medicaid-eligible young children are receiving oral care in Washington, a rate higher than any other state. (For more information, see the May 9 story in the Puget Sound Business Journal: A reason to smile: Washington leads nation in access to dental care for low-income kids.)
In Pierce County, the percentage of Medicaid-eligible children accessing dental care has increased steadily since implementation of the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program. The ABCD Program focuses on oral health education and early dental care for children ages 5 and under. In 2012, the percentage of Medicaid-eligible Pierce County children accessing dental care was just over 45%. Data and Medicaid dental reports are available on the Health Care Authority website.
While the above is good news, the challenge and opportunity exist, both State and county-wide, to connect the remaining percentages of Medicaid-eligible kids to dental care at least once a year. As a community, we can help by sharing the following oral health messages:
- Oral health is an essential component of overall health.
- Children should have a dental visit by first tooth or first birthday.
- Dental disease is both preventable and treatable. Early oral health education and intervention are cost-effective health measures, and key to prevention of dental disease.
- The ABCD program makes dental care possible for low-income children ages 0-5. Find Pierce County ABCD and dentist referral information here.
- Pierce County has many dental care providers, including many Pierce County Oral Health Coalition partners, who accept children, ages 0-18 who have WA Apple Health (Medicaid) insurance. Find low cost Pierce County dental providers here.