Oral Disease: "A Silent Epidemic" Affecting Our Most Vulnerable Populations
The Surgeon General reports that nationwide, fewer than one in five Medicaid-covered children received a single dental visit during 2000. Illinois Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) data reveal that approximately 30% of children ages three through twenty receive a dental service in a given year.
HFS covers approximately one million children under its Medical Programs. Protecting and improving the health of Illinois children is one of the state's highest priorities. Medicaid's Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment program (EPSDT) is the nation's largest preventive child health initiative providing health screening, vision, hearing and dental services at intervals that meet reasonable standards of medical and dental practice.
Children enrolled in Medicaid or All Kids are eligible to receive one clinical oral examination each year and routine prophylaxis and topical fluoride treatment every six months. HFS would like your help in assisting these families to access these valuable services.
Dental screening as part of the physical examination you provide, even for children under the age of one, helps identify children who require further evaluation by a dentist. Pediatricians and family physicians are a vital link and can help increase the number of children who receive dental services by:
- Performing an oral exam as part of the well child screening evaluation;
- Providing caregivers with anticipatory guidance in nutrition and oral hygiene procedures; and
- Initiating a referral to a dental provider and encouraging parents or guardians to make the appointment and keep it.
Bright Futures in Practice: Oral Health Web site is an excellent resource for anticipatory guidance.
To make dental referrals for children who participate in HFS Medical Programs, please contact or tell your clients to contact the HFS's dental program administrator:
DentaQuest 1-888-286-2447 (customer service for participants)
DentaQuest will assist in locating a dentist for an appointment. (You will need the participant's ZIP code to receive local referrals.)
HFS is grateful for the much-needed services you provide to this population.