By: Diane Oakes, President & CEO of Arcora Foundation When our state legislators passed the 2019–2021 Operating Budget in the final days of the session, they included a proviso directing the Health Care Authority (HCA) to stop moving forward with the planned implementation of Medicaid dental managed care, to continue directly administering the program under…
Oral Health Care for Pregnant Women = Early Prevention and Cost Savings
Ensuring that pregnant women have dental care is important because the bacteria that cause tooth decay is often transmitted from moms to babies. Dental disease may also cause complications during pregnancy that are expensive to treat and put babies at risk.
Preventing and treating dental disease in pregnant women can promote healthier pregnancies and lead to better oral health for thousands of children. Results from Washington’s latest 2010 Smile Survey show we need to focus more on prevention- nearly 40% of children in our state start kindergarten having experienced tooth decay. Research shows that for children, early prevention can substantially reduce future dental costs.
What the Legislature can do to increase access for pregnant women:
- Modeled after the nationally recognized Access to Baby and Child Dentistry program:
- Approve a pilot for an enhanced Medicaid dental benefit for pregnant women and people with diabetes (link to diabetes page), that included an enhanced reimbursement rate for dental providers and case management services for pregnant women to address barriers that make it difficult to access care and stress the importance of oral health.
Learn more from our Fact Sheet.
A National Workgroup comprised of oral health and prenatal care representation from over twenty-five national organizations like the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Dental Association has created a consensus statement on how to manage oral health care during pregnancy. This document is helpful for both pregnant women and their health providers.