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J Am Dent Assoc. 2002 Apr;133(4):474-82.

The funding of dental services among U.S. children 2 to 17 years old: recent trends in expenditures and sources of funding.

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  • 1Health Policy Resources Center, American Dental Association, Chicago 60611, USA.



This article is the first of two that focus on recent changes in the funding of dental services in the United States.


This study is based on analyses of data regarding dental expenditures among children 2 to 17 years of age from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey and the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Both of these surveys were designed to produce national estimates of annual medical expenditures in the United States.


Overall, real per capita dental expenditures among 2- to 17-year-old children who had had a dental visit fell from $578.05 in 1987 to $498.57 in 1996. Large increases per patient were reported for the poorest children, while decreases were reported for children from families with higher incomes.


Much of the increase from 1987 to 1996 in dental expenditures among economically disadvantaged children who had had a dental visit was due to an increase in care provided by dentists that was not reimbursed.


More needs to be done to increase the number of economically disadvantaged children who visit a dentist. All segments of society must cooperate to achieve this result.

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