Children’s oral health is a pressing issue in Kentucky. Oral health care is integral to overall health and wellness and affects a child’s success in learning and job prospects later in life. Understanding how Kentucky’s children, specifically those on Medicaid, fare in their oral health can help build the case for increased access to oral health care services and education. In partnership with George Washington University, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published the report Children’s Use of Dental Care in Medicaid: Federal Fiscal Years 2000-2012. The report presents national and state-specific analyses of dental services received by children ages 1 to 20 under Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit in federal fiscal years (FFY) 2000-2012. The report focuses on the number of children who received any dental service, including preventive dental service (e.g., dental cleaning or application of dental sealants), and dental treatment service (e.g., filling a cavity).
The report revealed that the percentage of children receiving dental services in the United States who have Medicaid coverage has grown since FFY 2000. Nearly half, 48.1%, of all children ages 1 to 20 received dental care in FFY 2012, compared to 29.3% in FFY 2000.
Kentucky trails the national trend with only 43.9 percent of children ages 1 to 20 enrolled in Medicaid receiving any dental services in FFY 2012. Also in that year, 37.6 percent of Kentucky’s children enrolled in Medicaid received a preventive dental service and 19.5 percent received a dental treatment service.
This report confirms there is much of work still to be done to improve oral health in Kentucky. Kentucky Oral Health Coalition (KOHC), a project of Kentucky Youth Advocates, has a school based oral health workgroup addressing the outcomes of Kentucky’s law that ensures all children entering kindergarten receive an oral health screening. KOHC wants to make sure that children are actually getting that screening and follow-up treatment if needed. Also, KOHC’s Medicaid workgroup met on December 9th to begin identifying solutions to ensure all children on Medicaid can access oral health care.