OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the impact of a North Carolina Medicaid preventive dentistry program in primary care medical offices (Into the Mouths of Babes Program [IMBP]) on decayed, missing, and filled teeth (dmft) of kindergarten students statewide and in schools with a large proportion of students from low-income families.
METHODS: An ecologic study using panel data of 920 505 kindergarten students with 11 694 school-year observations examined the effect of the IMBP on dmft scores from 1998 to 2009. Ordinary least squares regression with fixed effects determined the association between IMBP visits per child 0 to 4 years of age per county and mean dmft scores per kindergarten student per school, controlling for school-level poverty and ethnicity, county-level Medicaid enrollment, and supply of dentists and physicians.
RESULTS: Mean dmft per kindergarten student per school increased from 1.53 in 1998 to 1.84 in 2004, then decreased to 1.59 in 2009. The mean number of IMBP visits per child 0 to 4 years of age per county increased from 0.01 in 2000 to 0.22 in 2009. A 1-unit increase in IMBP visits per county was associated with a 0.248 (95% confidence interval, −0.40 to −0.10) decrease in dmft per kindergarten student per school. For schools with more students at high risk for dental disease, a 1-unit increase in IMBP visits was associated with a 0.320 (95% confidence interval, −0.55 to −0.09) decrease in dmft.
CONCLUSIONS: IMBP reduced dental caries among targeted vulnerable children, which helped reduce oral health disparities among preschool-aged children in North Carolina.
- Accepted January 22, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics