Report on dental care for youngest Michiganders

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MICHIGAN — To wrap up Children’s Dental Health Month, the Michigan Oral Health Coalition today unveiled the Check-up on Oral Health: Age One Dental Visits report.

The numbers released reveal a dramatic need for increased education and access to providers for young children on Medicaid across Michigan.

 The data is a county breakdown of the percentage of children under age two on Medicaid who have had a dental visit in the past calendar year.

The current state rate is 6.5 percent – up from 4.5 in 2013, so while oral health providers and state health officials understand they have some ways to go, the increase is encouraging.

“It’s incredibly important for children to get off on the right foot when it comes to their dental care,” said Board President Michele Strasz. “When regular visits and healthy oral health habits are established early, they are carried on throughout the child’s life.”

Guidelines from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Public Health Association recommend that infants see a dentist within six months of the appearance of their first tooth.

Though many factors have influenced the overall uptick in rates, investments in programs like Healthy Kids Dental, a MDHHS program partnership with Delta Dental serving Medicaid eligible children, can be particularly effective in increasing these rates.

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula specifically, some numbers saw increases in the past two years yet there is a lot of room for improvement – something both patients and providers can contribute to. Currently, the U.P. county rates are as follows:

Alger, 10.7 percent
Chippewa, 8.6 percent
Delta, 4.4 percent
Luce, 7.8 percent
Marquette, 8.6 percent

“Despite the progress we’ve seen, this data gives everyone involved in promoting oral health and wellness a wakeup call to the work that still needs to be done,” said Board President-Elect Trish Roels, DDS. “We need to better inform parents and providers as well as continue our work to increase access to dental care at an early age.”

The Michigan Oral Health Coalition is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve oral health in Michigan.

The Coalition is comprised of over 120 primary care clinicians, oral health clinicians, dental benefit providers, advocacy and provider organizations, state and local government officials, and patients. For more information or to view the report, visit www.mohc.org. 

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