Dental Care Services To Underserved Minority Children To Increase

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Children's Dental Care

University of Maryland Dental School and UnitedHealthcareon Wednesday announced a joint effort to create pediatric dentalprograms with the goal of improving low-income children's access todental care, the Baltimore Sunreports. Fewer than one in three children in Maryland's Medicaidprogram received any dental services in 2005 (Anderson, Baltimore Sun, 8/9).

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Underthe initiative, developed by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.),UnitedHealthcare will provide about $170,000 to the dental school tohelp train dentists in pediatric care. The funding will be used tocreate a $30,000 mini-pediatric dentistry clinic and provide a casemanager to help locate dentists for children, according to the Washington Post.The case managers will provide resources for transportation to dentalappointments and other information about dentist appointments. Theuniversity also will create several courses to teach pediatricians howto recognize dental problems such as cavities.

NormanTinanoff, chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the dentalschool, said the university hopes to have about 100 physiciansparticipating in the new programs (Minaya, Washington Post,8/9). The funding also will allow the university to hire anotherfull-time pediatric dental fellow to provide care for low-incomechildren.

In addition to the local efforts, Cummings has introduced federal legislationthat would increase dental services at community health centers andtrain more pediatric dentists. The legislation and Maryland initiativewere spurred by the death of a 12-year-old Maryland Medicaidbeneficiary who died after an infection from an abscessed tooth spreadto his brain. The mother of the boy had a difficult time finding adentist who accepted Medicaid (Baltimore Sun, 8/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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