When are oral healthcare spending rates lowest? 4 lifespan analysis findings

Oral healthcare use and spending rates are lower during the first four years of life and in young adulthood than any other periods of life, according to findings published in The Journal of The American Dental Association.

Researchers analyzed oral care use rate and spending among 31 million Medicaid claims and 45 million commercial claims data.

Four analysis findings:

1. Neither private nor public payment methodologies incentivize preventive care, particularly in early childhood.

2. The difficulties patients may have maneuvering a fragmented or siloed oral healthcare system over their lifetime result in unequal and inequitable access and outcomes of care.

3. Stark differences in the timing, affect and severity of caries, periodontal disease and oral cancer are seen between those enrolled in Medicaid and commercial dental plans.

4. Childhood caries and oral cancer occur more frequently and at younger ages in Medicaid populations.

Health policies should focus on optimizing care delivery to provide effective preventive care at specific stages of life, the authors conclude.

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