Dental Care and Children with Special Health Care Needs: A Population-Based Perspective
Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.Academic pediatrics (Impact Factor: 2.01). 11/2009; 9(6):420-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.acap.2009.09.005
This paper grew out of a project reviewing progress in children's oral health after Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General was published in 2000. It includes a summary of advances in national surveillance of children with special health care needs (CSHCN), and presents more recent data on unmet dental care need among CSHCN. To that end, we used the 2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs to determine the prevalence of unmet dental care need among CSHCN and to compare this within subgroups of CSHCN, as well as to children without special health care needs, and to results from the previous iteration of this survey. Dental care remains the most frequently cited unmet health need for CSHCN. More CSHCN had unmet needs for nonpreventive than preventive dental care. CSHCN who are teens, poorer, uninsured, had insurance lapses, or are more severely affected by their condition had higher adjusted odds of unmet dental care needs. CSHCN who were both low income and severely affected had 13.4 times the adjusted odds of unmet dental care need. In summary, CSHCN are more likely to be insured and to receive preventive dental care at equal or higher rates than children without special health care needs. Nevertheless, CSHCN, particularly lower income and severely affected, are more likely to report unmet dental care need compared with unaffected children. Despite advances in knowledge about dental care among CSHCN, unanswered questions remain. Recommendations are provided toward obtaining additional data and facilitating dental care access for this vulnerable population.