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Low-Income Children Not Getting Adequate Dental Care
Date:7/8/2010

By Madonna Behen
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Children in California who have dental insurance through Medicaid and other public insurance programs are less likely to visit the dentist regularly than privately insured kids, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), revealed that black and Latino children are especially at risk of having inadequate dental care.

"We know that disparities in health and oral health care exist, but we often do not know the more subtle ways these disparities persist," said Nadereh Pourat, director of research planning at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and co-author of the study, published in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Pourat and Len Finocchio, senior program officer at the CHCF, examined data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey to look at the length of time between dental visits and whether or not it differed by racial or ethnic group and type of insurance. The survey contains data on more than 11,300 children from birth through age 11. In the study group of 10,805 children with teeth, 45 percent were covered by private insurance, roughly 37 percent were covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and 18 percent were uninsured.

National health initiatives call for at least one dental visit yearly for all children, and Medicaid, CHIP and private insurers cover semi-annual visits for kids. And the survey showed that 53 percent of the kids had seen a dentist within the past six months.

But the researchers found that 24 percent of the kids had never seen a dentist. In addition, children with public insurance were more likely than privately insured kids to have had longer intervals between visits. And Latino and black children were more likely than white children to have ne
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