Maryland is Best State for Children’s Dental Care



Maryland was named the top performing state for children’s dental care, according to a recent report card among the 50 states on children’s dental health.

Maryland was the lone state to meet or go beyond seven of the eight total benchmarks set forth by Pew Center of States. Officials in Maryland said they would maintain this high level of dental performance for the children of Maryland.

This kind of dental treatment in Maryland may stem from the death of a 12-year-old boy, Deamonte Driver, four years ago. The child died from an untreated toothache.

One of the reasons why Maryland stands out is because its reimbursement rate, which is 70.7 percent paid to dentists who serve Medicaid-enrolled children, is one of the best. This kind of reimbursement rate promotes the treatment for children covered by Medicaid. Also, 99.8 percent of Maryland residents have water that they receive fluoride from—the highest in the nation.

Maryland’s congressional leaders have been at the forefront of increased childhood dental care in Maryland and throughout the country since the boy’s death. Led by Congressmen Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes, and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, they have generated more funding for oral health education and dental work. They created the Affordable Care Act to make this happen.

Still, there are about 16 American million children each year that don’t visit a dentist. An extraction for $80 could have saved Driver’s life, but his mother didn’t have private dental insurance and the Medicaid coverage the family received lapsed.

This Pew Report was released four years after the 12-year-old boy’s death. This is the second time Pew has put together this kind of report.