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Expansion of Dental Care for Low‐Income Children Through a Mobile Services Program

29 May 2019

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Although access to dental care has improved over time, many children still face difficulty in obtaining services. One strategy to increase access is through mobile dental services, often in collaboration with schools, Head Start programs, and school‐based health centers. This study evaluates a large mobile dental care program based in Minnesota.

METHODS

Thematic analysis of interview data collected during a 2‐day site visit and multivariate regression analysis of electronic records of patients (adults and children) that received care from 2000 through 2015, representing 84,279 unique patients.

RESULTS

The number of patients increased from 5558 in 2000 to 13,863 in 2015. There was a decline in the share of preventive procedures over this period, from 45.7% to 29.4%, and an increase in the share of patients seen at fixed sites. The interview data revealed that program growth relied on relationships with school leaders, expanded scope of practice for dental assistants and dental therapists, and high Medicaid reimbursement.

CONCLUSIONS

Mobile dental care programs can increase both preventive and restorative dental care for individuals who otherwise would not easily access oral health care services; mobile dental programs could be an option in many other communities and schools.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of School Health