Bexar County’s Dental Safety Net For Children: An Estimate of Our Capacity and Need

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Background: It has been well established that poor uninsured children lack access to dental care and have greater dental needs than their insured counterparts.

Objective: To assess the capacity of the Bexar County dental safety net to treat children. To assess the dental needs of Bexar County children ages 0-18 who are uninsured or are Medicaid or Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients.

Methods: Dental clinics that treat children ages 0-18 and act as the safety net were identified in order to assess their capacity to treat children. Clinic directors were contacted to request data on the number of child patient encounters per clinic for 2005. Data from the census, NHANeS and other sources were used to establish an estimate of the dental needs of the uninsured and Medicaid/CHIP children. The dental needs of this population were calculated as maximum possible number of patient encounters per year.

Results: The capacity of the current safety net to treat children is 33,537 patient encounters per year. The dental needs of the community are 227,124 patient encounters per year.

Conclusion: The results of the study suggest that the Bexar County is not prepared to treat the dental needs of the underserved children in San Antonio.

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