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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Barriers to Integrated Pediatric Dental Care Common at Federal Health Centers

Time constraints, professional boundaries, and a lack of training and shared electronic medical records are among the key reasons why oral health often is not integrated into pediatric primary care at federally qualified health centers, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

The study, published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, looked at how children’s dental care was handled at six health clinics in Maryland and Massachusetts. It found no correlation between success at dental integration and factors such as clinic size, patient characteristics, geographic location, or budget.

Instead, strong leadership with a commitment to cross-disciplinary collaboration was critical to ensuring that dental care was integrated into pediatric care, the study found. Recommendations that emerged from interviews with clinicians and staff include identifying oral health “champions,” forming an oral health committee, providing on-site workshops in oral health, and increasing funding for oral health at federal health centers.

The study found that administrators and staff at the clinics understood and supported the importance of oral health for young children. But, the authors noted, pediatric providers in health clinics often are the only source of oral health education for low-income children, and recent studies have confirmed gaps in oral care and referral rates for children on Medicaid assistance.

To read more about the study, go to: