Washington state is leading the nation in providing preventative dental care to young children from low-income families. In our state, over 50 percent of all Medicaid-enrolled children, under the age of six, are currently receiving dental care. This success can be largely attributed to the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program.
The ABCD program was founded in Spokane by local dentists, the WSDA, and the University of Washington School of Dentistry, and now operates in all 39 counties. The program was created to increase dental access for low-income children who are Medicaid eligible but not receiving dental care. The ABCD program increased reimbursement for the treatment of children under the age of six. From 1997 to 2008, the number of Medicaid-eligible children under age six who receive dental care more than doubled from 40,000 to 107,000.
According to a recent KNDU news report, out of the 39 counties in Washington state, Yakima County boasts the highest rate of providing dental services to children in need, with a 65 percent utilization rate. Click here for the full report. By connecting Washington state’s low income children under the age of six with oral health education and early preventive dental services, the ABCD program is helping to improve the lives of thousands of children while also saving the state money by reducing the need for more costly restorative care.
The ABCD program is also beneficial for the dentists of Washington state as it provides dentists with additional training, enhanced Medicaid reimbursements and referrals from primary care medical providers. The University of Washington School of Dentistry offers a training curriculum for the ABCD program; there are currently over 1,700 thousand dentists in Washington state that have completed the training and are ABCD-certified. Dentists who are ABCD certified provide treatment, oral evaluation, oral health education and fluoride varnish application to children participating in the ABCD program. The success of Washington’s ABCD program has received national recognition and has become a model for the rest of the nation. This week NWPR conducted a broadcast focusing on Washington state’s flourishing ABCD program.
In Spokane, the birthplace of the ABCD program, certified dentists are busy providing care to those in need. Dr. Evans, a local dentist, commented on the accomplishments of the ABCD program. “It’s been great. The ages are zero to six and that is so we can get them started on the right track, send them to three visits a year, and make sure that they are getting off to a good start.” Dr. Evans’ comments echo the voices of many dentists who believe early preventive care provided through the ABCD program significantly reduces a child’s risk of dental disease and contributes to the improvement of their oral and overall health. To listen to the full broadcast click here.
For more information regarding the ABCD program click here.