OBJECTIVES We sought to estimate the prevalence of oral health problems and receipt of preventive oral health (POH) services among children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and investigate associations with child- and family-level characteristics.
METHODS We used pooled data from the 2016–2018 National Survey of Children’s Health. The analytic sample was limited to children 1 to 17 years old, including 23 099 CYSHCN and 75 612 children without special health care needs (non-CYSHCN). Parent- and caregiver-reported measures of oral health problems were fair or poor teeth condition, decayed teeth and cavities, toothaches, and bleeding gums. POH services were preventive dental visits, cleanings, tooth brushing and oral health care instructions, fluoride, and sealants. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted.
RESULTS A higher proportion of CYSHCN than non-CYSHCN received a preventive dental visit in the past year (84% vs 78%, P < .0001). Similar patterns were found for the specific preventive services examined. However, CYSHCN had higher rates of oral health problems compared with non-CYSHCN. For example, decayed teeth and cavities were reported in 16% of CYSHCN versus 11% in non-CYSHCN (P < .0001). In adjusted analyses, several factors were significantly associated with decreased prevalence of receipt of POH services among CYSHCN, including younger or older age, lower household education, non-English language, lack of health insurance, lack of a medical home, and worse condition of teeth.
CONCLUSIONS CYSHCN have higher rates of POH service use yet worse oral health status than non-CYSHCN. Ensuring appropriate use of POH services among CYSHCN is critical to the reduction of oral health problems.