In California, where children missed 874,000 school days in a recent year because of dental problems, a coalition led by The Children’s Partnership, is urging policymakers to implement workforce solutions to ensure there are enough dental providers to meet the needs of California’s children. The goal is to deploy providers, supervised by dentists, who could focus on preventive and basic restorative care. By extending the reach of dentists, new workforce models can help ensure all children get the high-quality dental care they need in a cost-effective way.
While most state health insurance programs now cover children’s dental care, low-income kids often have trouble finding a dentist who practices in their community or who takes Medicaid patients. The mismatch in the number of providers and the children is particularly acute in California and will only grow worse as federal health care reform provides health coverage for more children, says The Children’s Partnership.