Background: Many Southern and Southwestern states have disproportionately large percentages of low-income and minority families, and disparities in both preventative dental care and unmet dental need. In Nevada, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas-School of Dental Medicine (UNLV-SDM) recently opened a pediatric dental residency program to decrease health disparities. This study sought to determine if UNLV-SDM pediatric clinic is providing care to the underserved children of Clark County, Nevada.
Methods: Demographic and insurance information from Nevada was compared with the overall demographic profile of the UNLV-SDM pediatric patient pool (N = 2,446) using a chi-square (χ2) test, to determine if any characteristic (gender, race, age, Medicaid/CHIP status) was different than expected.
Results: Compared to Nevada, more than three-fourths (76.7%) of UNLV-SDM pediatric patients were covered by Medicaid or CHIP (χ2 = 57.101, d.f. = 1; p < 0.0001). Additionally, significant percentages (87.9%) of pediatric patients were minorities (χ2 = 57.101, d.f. = 1; p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The results of this study provide conclusive evidence that underserved children in the Las Vegas area are accessing and utilizing dental healthcare services at UNLV-SDM, thereby improving the oral health status of those who are increasingly dependent upon free- or low-cost services.