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Estimating the Cost Savings of Preventive Dental Services Delivered to MedicaidEnrolled Children in Six Southeastern States

Objective: To quantify the impact of multiyear utilization of preventive dental services on downstream dental care utilization and expenditures for children.

Data Sources/Study Setting: We followed 0.93 million Medicaidenrolled children who were 3–6 years old in 2005 from 2005 to 2011. We used Medicaid claims data of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

Study Design: We clustered each state's study population into four groups based on utilization of topical fluoride and dental sealants before cariesrelated treatment using machine learning algorithms. We evaluated utilization rates and expenditures across the four groups and quantified cost savings of preventive care for different levels of penetration.

Data Extraction Method: We extracted all dentalrelated claims using CDT codes.

Principal Findings: In all states, Medicaid expenditures were much lower for children who received topical fluoride and dental sealants before caries development than for all other children, with a permember peryear difference ranging from $88 for Alabama to $156 for Mississippi.

Conclusions: The cost savings from topical fluoride and sealants across the six states ranged from $1.1M/year in Mississippi to $12.9M/year in Texas at a 10 percent penetration level. Preventive dental care for children not only improves oral health outcomes but is also cost saving.

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