Briefs and Reports

Improving Children’s Oral Health by Crossing the Medical-Dental Divide

Young children in low-income families continue to suffer high rates of tooth decay — decay that can be prevented, slowed, or stopped by managing diet and using protective fluorides. Yet few Connecticut parents of such Medicaid-enrolled children under age three are counseled on prevention.

  • Only 3 percent of children on Medicaid receive oral health services from their medical providers, despite having multiple well child visits.
  • Only 1 percent of children on Medicaid under age one have a dental visit.

This brief reports key findings of an analysis commissioned by the Connecticut Health Foundation to explore options for increasing dental care for young children, increasing involvement of medical primary care providers (PCPs), and securing the triple aim of improved patient outcomes at lower cost with improved population health.


  • Burton L. Edelstein, DDS, MPH (author), is professor of dental medicine and health policy & management at Columbia University Medical Center, and a senior fellow in public policy at the Children’s Dental Health Project.
  • Marcie S. Rubin, DrPH MPH MPA (author), is assistant professor of dental medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
  • Joanna M. Douglass BDS, DDS (subject matter editor), is associate professor of pediatric dentistry at University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.