Statewide Policy Change in Pediatric Dental Care, and the Impact on Pediatric Dental and Physician Visits

Cheryl Zlotnick, Tammy Tam, Yu Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction In 2007, the California signed legislation mandating a dental visit for all children entering kindergarten or first grade; no such mandate was made for physician visits. This study examines the impact of this policy change on the risk factors associated with obtaining pediatric dental and physician health care visits. Methods Every 2 years, California Health Interview Survey conducts a statewide survey on a representative community sample. This cross-sectional study took advantage of these data to conduct a “natural experiment” assessing the impact of this policy change on both pediatric physician and dental care visits in the past year. Samples included surveys of adults and children (ages 5–11) on years 2005 (n = 5096), 2007 (n = 4324) and 2009 (n = 4100). Results Although few changes in risk factors were noted in pediatric physician visits, a gradual decrease in risk factors was found in pediatric dental visits from 2005 to 2009. Report of no dental visit was less likely for: younger children (OR -0.81, CI 0.75–0.88), insured children (OR 0.34, CI 0.22–0.53), and children who had a physician’s visit last year (OR 0.37, CI 0.25–0.53) in 2005. By 2007, absence of insurance was the only risk factor related to having no dental visit (OR 0.34, CI 0.19–0.61). By 2009, no a priori measured risk factors were associated with not having a dental visit for children aged 5–11 years. Conclusions A statewide policy mandating pediatric dental visits appears to have reduced disparities. A policy for medical care may contribute to similar benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1939-1948
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Health care utilization
  • Health disparities
  • Oral health
  • Pediatric primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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