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Washington State Dental Association

Washington Dentists launch the Dental Referral Program for Children to coincide with Affordable Care Act implementation

The Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) has established a toll free number and website to help parents connect their children to local dentists that accept their children’s insurance. This initiative, called the Dental Referral Program for Children, coincides with the January 1, 2014 implementation of mandatory pediatric dental coverage for all children in Washington state. Washington and Nevada are the only two states in the nation that require all children to have a dental benefit as part of the Affordable Care Act changes.

“The Dental Referral Program for Children will help families connect to local dentists who take their child’s insurance,” said WSDA President Dr. David M. Minahan, from Kenmore, “a dentist who sees your child regularly is an important part of establishing good oral health habits at a young age that can prevent oral disease, reduce pain and lower costs.”

WSDA established the toll free number to help parents navigate the new pediatric dental benefit available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  As part of health care reform implementation, children in Washington state are required to have dental coverage. This means routine exams, cleanings, x-rays, and fillings will be covered by their health plan or a stand-alone dental plan. WSDA wants to ensure that those who want to use this benefit can do so.

Parents can call 877-239-1011 or visit, to participate in the program. Each parent will be asked to provide basic information about their family and be given the contact information of several nearby dental offices. WSDA has developed a database of member dentists who are accepting new pediatric patients. This database also includes information about which types of insurance (including Medicaid) dental offices accept, as well as languages spoken, and ability to accommodate children with special needs. To date, over 500 dental offices are participating in the program from across the state, more dental offices are being added to the program each week.

According to a 2010 state oral health survey, 58 percent of Washington’s 3rd graders have experienced dental decay. Kids experiencing dental problems can have a hard time eating, sleeping and learning at school. The good news is that dental disease is preventable. Simple things like brushing children’s teeth for two minutes, twice a day along with regular visits to the dentist can keep mouths healthy. Under the law, every child in Washington will have access to dental coverage, which provides the opportunity for regular checkups with a dentist to ensure good oral health.

Data recently released from Washington Healthplanfinder shows there are already 54,000 children enrolled who now have a pediatric dental benefit and this number is sure to grow.

The Washington State Dental Association’s 4,100 member dentists are committed to cost-effective solutions that prevent disease and ensure quality oral health for all Washingtonians. WSDA is a leader in developing innovative public policy solutions, working with community organizations, government agencies, and legislators to strengthen the dental safety net and reduce barriers to care. Washington dentists care about their local communities, and volunteer their time and services providing more than 100,000 patients with uncompensated care each year.

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