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Matern Child Health J. 2012 Jan;16(1):203-11. doi: 10.1007/s10995-010-0725-1.

Rural-urban differences in dental service utilization among an early childhood population enrolled in South Carolina Medicaid.

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SC Rural Health Research Center, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29210, USA.


Our exploratory study examined rural-urban differences in dental care utilization during early childhood among Medicaid-enrolled children aged younger than 4 years in South Carolina. We conducted a secondary data analysis using Medicaid data. Dependent variables included preventive dental visits, use of medical settings (emergency room [ER] and primary care [PC] offices) for dental reasons, receipt of fluoride varnish, and dental home status. The primary independent variable was child's area of residence, rural or urban. The control variables were child's age, gender, race, and special healthcare need status. In adjusted analyses, rural children were found to have significantly higher odds of lacking preventive dental visits, fluoride varnishes, and dental homes as well as using medical settings for dental reasons compared to urban children. This difference, however, was not a simple function of rural residence. Other variables such as race and special healthcare need status interacted with rurality in explaining the differences in the outcomes of interest except visiting medical settings for dental reasons. Children under age of 2 years had higher odds of undesirable outcomes compared to those aged older than 2 years. Significant disparities in dental care utilization were evident among rural, Medicaid-enrolled preschool-aged children in South Carolina. While the state has addressed Medicaid reimbursement and related policies for nearly 10 years, their impact may be disproportionately effective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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