Low-income children have a higher prevalence of dental caries and lower utilization of dental services than those from wealthier families. Medicaid is well-positioned to ensure that low-income children receive important diagnostic, preventive and corrective dental care through Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) services. Providing child health stakeholders — including families, child care workers, teachers, pediatricians, and community dentists — with a schedule of recommended dental procedures is critical to emphasizing oral health in the EPSDT program.

New Jersey’s Medicaid agency, the Department of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS), created the Periodicity of Dental Services for Children in NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid with age-appropriate recommendations for children ages 0 to 20. Highlights include:

  • Children should see a dentist for the first time at the eruption of their first tooth, but no later than age 1;
  • After their first dental visit, children should see their dentist at least twice a year for preventive services;
  • Education on dental disease and prevention should be provided to children ages 2 and older; and
  • Fluoride varnish can be applied up to four times a year for children ages 6 and younger.

This resource was developed support New Jersey Smiles: A Medicaid Quality Collaborative to Improve Oral Health in Young Kids, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This CHCS collaborative — involving DMAHS, the state’s five Medicaid health plans, New Jersey Head Start, the New Jersey Dental School, and community dentists — increased dental service utilization and the establishment of dental homes for low-income children in select cities across New Jersey.