The Roundup -

Montana Children's Oral Health Improvements Reported


Children’s access to dental care and dental visits by children in Montana have shown significant improvement, according to a report released December 9 by the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute.

The ADA Health Policy Institute developed the report to provide a state-by-state analysis of key oral health factors. Each state-level fact sheet covers dental care utilization among children and adults with private dental benefits and among Medicaid children; sealant rates among Medicaid children; water fluoridation rates; self-reported oral health status; reimbursement rates for dental care services; and the supply of dentists. “The improvements in oral health indicators for our children represent the commitment of dentists, dental hygienists and others to ensure the best oral health possible for Montana’s children,” said Dr. Jane Gillette, President-elect of the Montana Dental Association and a nationally renowned community health researcher. “Innovative Montana oral health programs, such as Montana’s Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (AbCd) and Sealants for Smiles! have increased prevention and needed dental care for infants, toddlers and school-aged children, said Dr. Gillette. “These programs are the result of strong partnerships between state government and non-profit organizations, and local community child advocates.”

The ADA report shows that more Montana kids are getting dental care. The percentage of children with a dental visit in the past 12 months increased by 108 percent from 2000 to 2013 for children with Medicaid coverage and by 84 percent for children covered by private dental insurance from 2005 to 2011.

One of Montana’s most significant oral health performance measures summarized in the ADA report was the percentage of dentists participating in Medicaid for Child Dental Services in 2014. Seventy-two percent of Montana dentists provide Medicaid services for children’s oral health compared to only 42 percent in the nation as a whole. “Access to dental care is a key factor in children’s oral health. The fact that three out of four dentists in Montana participate in Medicaid is an extremely positive sign,” said David Hemion, executive director of the Montana Dental Association. He noted that the number of dentists in the state is steadily increasing. The report shows that the number of practicing dentists per 100,000 people increased by 5 percent from 2001 to 2013.

The Montana Dental Association launched Healthy Smiles from the Start earlier this year to increase oral health awareness among expectant mothers and the parents of young children. Community programs and dental offices across Montana are participating in the public education campaign, which educates pregnant women on the importance of oral healthcare during pregnancy and urges caregivers to keep their children cavity-free by scheduling their child’s first dental visit as soon as the first tooth emerges. For information about Healthy Smiles from the Start, visit “With the help of many partners, we’ve made great strides in improving child oral health and well-being throughout Montana. This report reflects some of those successes and also highlights the opportunities that are still before us in the area of adult oral health.” said Hemion. The Oral Health Care System analysis is available at


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