• utilization;
  • dental health services;
  • dental care for disabled;
  • dental care for children;
  • Medicaid;
  • preventive dentistry;
  • preventive health services;
  • mental retardation;
  • intellectual disability;
  • developmental disability


Objectives: To compare preventive dental utilization for children with intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD) and those without IDD and to identify factors associated with dental utilization.

Methods: We analyzed Iowa Medicaid dental claims submitted during calendar year (CY) 2005 for a cohort of children ages 3-17 who were eligible for Medicaid for at least 11 months in CY 2005 (n = 107,605). A protocol for identifying IDD children was developed by a group of dentists and physicians with clinical experience in treating children with disabilities. Utilization rates were compared for the two groups. Crude and covariate-adjusted odds ratios were estimated using conditional logistic regression modeling.

Results: A significantly higher proportion of non-IDD children received preventive care than those identified as IDD (48.6 percent versus 46.1 percent; P < 0.001). However, the final model revealed no statistically significant difference between the two groups. Factors such as older age, not residing in a dental Health Professional Shortage Area, interaction with the medical system, and family characteristics increased one's likelihood of receiving preventive dental care.

Conclusion: Although IDD children face additional barriers to receiving dental care and may be at greater risk for dental disease, they utilize preventive dental services at the same rate as non-IDD children. Clinical and policy efforts should focus on ensuring that all Medicaid-enrolled children receive need-appropriate levels of preventive dental care.