A comparative analysis of public and private dental benefit payer types for the provision and outcomes of root canal therapy on permanent teeth of children and adolescents in Massachusetts

Lorel E. Burns, Nihan Gencerliler, Heather T. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite substantial increases in dental benefits and improvements in the use of dental services among children and adolescents in the United States, oral health disparities according to dental insurance payer type persist. Methods: The authors used an all-payer claims (2013-2017) database to perform a comparative analysis of the provision and treatment outcomes of an endodontic procedure (root canal therapy) in the permanent teeth of a pediatric population aged 6 through 18 years, according to dental insurance payer type. Statistical analyses, including logistic regression, Cox proportional hazards regression, and the Kaplan-Meier method, were performed at person and tooth levels. Results: Compared with privately insured children and adolescents, public-payer children and adolescent beneficiaries were more likely to have had root canal therapy (adjusted odds ratio, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.73 to 2.11) and had poorer treatment outcomes associated with the procedure (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.53 to 3.14; P < .0001) during the study period. Those enrolled in private insurance were more likely to receive treatment from an endodontist (specialist in providing root canal therapy) (P < .0001). Amounts allowed and paid by the insurer were significantly higher for private payers (P < .001). Conclusions: There were significant differences in the provision and outcomes of endodontic treatment between privately and publicly insured children and adolescents. Practical Implications: Despite ostensibly equal access to care, differences in the provision of oral health care exist between privately and publicly insured patients. These differences may be contributing to persisting oral health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Volume154
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Access to care
  • dental insurance
  • dental use
  • endodontic treatment outcomes
  • Medicaid
  • pediatric dentistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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