Funder: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author: Carolyn Ballard and Nikki Highsmith, Center for Health Care Strategies

August 2006 | Report


In most states, less than one in four children served by Medicaid have an annual dental visit. Given the high incidence of oral health diseases in low-income and minority Americans, Medicaid and the oral health community can and should do better. This report highlights the successes, challenges, and results of six states – Arizona, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont – who took on the challenge to develop programs to reduce disparities and improve quality in oral health services.

Through grants under the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Action for Oral Health Access initiative, these states’ innovative approaches resulted in improved access to oral health care. Select states were able to:

  • Increase the percentage of enrolled children under the age of six receiving dental care;
  • Reduce the percentage of children who had one or more teeth extracted; and
  • Improve dental preventive services for Medicaid beneficiaries in all age categories.