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J Dent Hyg. 2013 Oct;87(5):289-98.

Extending oral health care services to underserved children through a school-based collaboration: Part 3--a cost analysis.



The purpose of this manuscript was to conduct a cost analysis of the Miles of Smiles Program, a collaboration between the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and the Olathe School District in Kansas. This preventive program was implemented to improve the access to oral health care for low income children within the school district.


An inventory list and de-identified patient records were used to determine the costs associated with operating the program to serve 339 elementary school students during the 2008 to 2009 school term. Costs related to equipment, supplies and personnel were included. The costs were then compared to the amount of Medicaid reimbursement obtained for the services provided. Additionally, the cost of operating a similar program, if staffed by dental professionals rather than supervised dental hygiene students, was estimated.


The cost of operating the program during the 2008 to 2009 school term was $107,515.74. The program received Medicaid reimbursement for approximately 1.5% of the total operating cost of and approximately 6.3% of the total billable services, however, challenges with submitting and billing Medicaid claims for the first time contributed to this low rate of reimbursement. If a similar program that utilized dental professionals was implemented and treated the same number of patients, the cost would be approximately $37,529.65 more due to higher expenses associated with personnel and supplies.


The program is not self-sustainable based on Medicaid government-funded insurance reimbursement alone, and therefore continuous external sources of funding or a change in the program design would be necessary for long-term sustainability of the program.


access to care; community–based dental education; cost analysis; dental care for children; dental hygiene education; dental medicaid program; oral healthcare for the underserved; portable equipment; school–based oral health

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