Preventive Dental Care and Unmet Dental Needs Among Low-Income Children

Past research shows that children from low-income families and children who lack health insurance have a lower chance of receiving the recommended level of dental care and have more unmet dental needs than children who are insured or from higher income families. This study uses data from the 2002 National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) to explore the relationship between receipt of preventive dental services and type of dental insurance among children from low-income families.

Key Findings:

  • The following rates were observed for low-income children lacking preventive dental care during the previous year: 55.6 percent of uninsured children, 19.9 percent of children with private dental coverage, 24.3 percent of children with public dental insurance and 27.7 of children with private health insurance but no dental benefits.
  • The following rates were reported for low-income children having unmet dental needs during the previous year: 13.7 percent of uninsured children, 7.7 percent of children with private dental coverage, 8.6 percent for children with public dental insurance and 12.9 percent of children privately insured without dental coverage.
  • Children of parents who reported poor mental health scores were more likely to have received no preventive dental care in the previous year.