Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Oral Science

First Advisor

Damiano, Peter C

First Committee Member

Momany, Elizabeth T

Second Committee Member

Jones, Michael P

Third Committee Member

Warren, John J

Fourth Committee Member

Slayton, Rebecca L

Fifth Committee Member

Weber-Gasparoni, Karin


Previous studies suggest that Medicaid-enrolled children have difficulties accessing dental care, which can lead to untreated dental disease, poor oral health, and compromised overall health status. While Medicaid-enrolled children with a chronic condition (CC) encounter additional barriers to dental care, most relevant studies on dental utilization fail to adopt risk adjustment methods. As such, the impact of CC status and CC severity on access to dental care for Medicaid-enrolled children is poorly understood.

The main objectives of this dissertation were to: 1) compare dental utilization for Medicaid-enrolled children with and without a CC; 2) assess the relationship between CC severity and dental utilization; and 3) identify the other factors associated with dental utilization. The 3M Clinical Risk Grouping (CRG) Methods were applied to enrollee-level data from the Iowa Medicaid Program (2003-2008) to identify children with and without a CC and to classify children with a CC into a CC severity level. Three outcome measures were developed: 1) access to an annual dental visit; 2) use of dental services under general anesthesia (GA); and 3) time to the first dental visit after initial enrollment into the Medicaid program. We used multiple variable logistic regression models and survival analytic techniques to test our study hypotheses.

Compared to Medicaid-enrolled children without a CC, those with a CC were more likely to have had an annual dental visit and earlier first dental visits. Having a CC was an important determinant of dental utilization under GA for older but not for younger Medicaid-enrolled children. In terms of CC severity, Medicaid-enrolled children with more severe CCs were less likely to have had an annual dental visit and more likely to have utilized dental services under GA. CC severity was not associated with the rate at which the first dental visit took place. Not residing in a dental Health Professional Shortage Area, previous use of dental care, and previous utilization of primary medical care were all positively associated with dental utilization.

Identifying and understanding the determinants of access to dental care is an important first step in developing clinical interventions and policies aimed at improving access to dental care for all Medicaid-enrolled children. Future work should focus on identifying the socio-behavioral determinants of as well as the clinical outcomes associated with access to dental services for vulnerable children.


dental health services, disabled children, general anesthesia, Medicaid, survival analysis, utilization


xviii, 283 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 253-283).


Copyright 2009 Donald Leslie Chi