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Kid with special dental care needs costs the same as others

Most children with special health care needs don't have higher dental expenses than other children, a study finds. And they are just as likely as others to visit a dentist.

About 1 in every 6 children has a special health care need. These include physical, behavioral, emotional and developmental needs. Past research has found that these children tend to have more dental problems and less access to dental care. In fact, dental care is reported to be the greatest unmet health care need in this group of children.




But the new study did not find such a gap in dental care.(ENT UNIT)


Researchers from the University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill , did the study. They looked at information from a 2004 national survey. The study included 8,518 children. Their age range was 2 to 17.


About 19% of these children had special health care needs. Compared with other children, those with special health care needs were more likely to be:


l           Older




l           Male




l           Hispanic




l           From low-income families




l           From families without a college degree




l           Insured





Children with special health care needs were just as likely as other children to have dental expenses during the previous year. They were just as likely to get:





l           Preventive care, such as a tooth cleaning




l           Diagnostic care, such as X-rays




l           Restorative care, such as fillings




l           Other types of care





Several factors had no effect on whether children got dental care. Dental visits did not vary by the child's race, age or insurance type. The parents' income and education level also did not affect whether children went to the dentist.





However, the study found that only 42% of special-needs children and 43% of other children received preventive dental care.





Dental professionals say that all children should visit the dentist at least twice a year for a check-up. Children with special health care needs may need to visit more often. They also may need to start going to the dentist at a younger age.





The study did not find that children with special health care needs have problems accessing dental care. But other research suggests that this might be an issue. Special-needs children may be better served by visiting pediatric dentists and other dentists with targeted training. These dentists are in short supply in some areas of the country.



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