Factors associated with receiving treatment for dental decay among Medicaid-enrolled children younger than 12 years of age in Iowa, 2010

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The Iowa Department of Public Health I-Smile program provides dental screening and care coordination to over 23,000 low-income and Medicaid-enrolled children per year. The purposes of this study were to evaluate I-Smile program effectiveness to ensure that Medicaid-enrolled children obtained dental treatment after having been screened and to determine the factors associated with failure to receive dental care after screening through the I-Smile program.


Based on I-Smile program priorities, we limited our sample to children younger than 12 years of age who screened positive for decay and who linked to a paid Medicaid claim for dental treatment (n = 1,816). We conducted bivariate analyses to examine associations between children's characteristics who screened positive for decay and received treatment within 6 months of their initial screening. We also performed multivariate logistic regression to assess the association of sociodemographic characteristics with receipt of treatment among children who screened positive for decay.


Eleven percent of children screened positive for decay. Nearly 24 percent of children with decay received treatment based on a Medicaid-paid claim. Being 5 years or older [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 1.48, confidence interval (CI): 1.17, 1.88] and not having a dental home (aOR: 1.90, CI: 1.41, 2.58) were associated with higher odds of not receiving dental treatment.


Children 5 years and older and without a dental home were less likely to obtain dental treatment. Opportunities exist for the I-Smile program to increase the numbers of at-risk children with dental homes and who obtain dental care after screening.

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