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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012 Oct;166(10):945-51.

Cost-effectiveness of preventive oral health care in medical offices for young Medicaid enrollees.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



To estimate the cost-effectiveness of a medical office-based preventive oral health program in North Carolina called Into the Mouths of Babes (IMB).


Observational study using Medicaid claims data (2000-2006).


Medical staff delivered IMB services in medical offices, and dentists provided dental services in offices or hospitals.


A total of 209 285 children enrolled in Medicaid at age 6 months.


Into the Mouths of Babes visits included screening, parental counseling, topical fluoride application, and referral to dentists, if needed. The cost-effectiveness analysis used the Medicaid program perspective and a propensity score-matched sample with regression analysis to compare children with 4 or more vs 0 IMB visits.


Dental treatments and Medicaid payments for children up to age 6 years enabled assessment of the likelihood of whether IMB was cost-saving and, if not, the additional payments per hospital episode avoided.


Into the Mouths of Babes is 32% likely to be cost-saving, with discounting of benefits and payments. On average, IMB visits cost $11 more than reduced dental treatment payments per person. The program almost breaks even if future benefits from prevention are not discounted, and it would be cost-saving with certainty if IMB services could be provided at $34 instead of $55 per visit. The program is cost-effective with 95% certainty if Medicaid is willing to pay $2331 per hospital episode avoided.


Into the Mouths of Babes improves dental health for additional payments that can be weighed against unmeasured hospitalization costs.

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