When children struggle to get the dental care they need, the obstacle often can be traced to challenges being faced by their parents or caregivers. The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP), a nonprofit policy institute, has launched an initiative to examine these connections and explore whether multi-generational policy solutions can improve oral health.
In a new video, CDHP Executive Director Meg Booth explains why the initiative — sometimes called a 2Gen approach — is needed. Although the percentage of kids with dental coverage has steadily risen in recent decades, Booth points out that many adults “don’t have the same access (to care) they had as children.” Although children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP are eligible for a comprehensive set of dental services, adults face a different reality when it comes to oral health coverage. In most states, Medicaid offers adults only limited or emergency dental services.
Research has revealed a variety of links between children and parents when it comes to getting dental services. For example, an analysis of Connecticut’s Medicaid dental program showed that children were much more likely to receive dental services during a year when their parents or caregivers also had seen a dentist. In fact, 81 percent of children whose parents had obtained dental care also received dental care. By contrast, only 52 percent of kids whose parents had no dental visit received oral health services themselves.
At this stage, CDHP’s research will focus on how oral health intersects with the economic stability of families, children’s educational outcomes and other areas. Their hope is to uncover policy solutions that could support the integration of oral health into models, communities, and programs that put all families on the path to well-being and success.