Thesis Title

How Do Ethnicity, Age, and Insurance Coverage Affect Dental Use Patterns in Children?

Date of Graduation

Fall 2003


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


The lack of access to quality dental care is a long-term problem in the United States. There are profound disparities in oral health; many children live in poverty and have untreated oral diseases. Despite government support and attention, the problem does not seem to be improving. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 20% of preschoolers have tooth decay with 50% developing tooth decay by the third grade, and nearly 75% by the age of 15 (2002). The purpose of this study was to identify how age, ethnicity, and insurance coverage are related to dental use patterns in children. The aforementioned are described in the literature as being the most common barriers to dental care in the pediatric population. This secondary analysis used the 1998 Medical Expenditures Personal Survey (MEPS), Household survey section. It has 43,000 household responses from across the United States. The results found that even though children had insurance they were not accessing the dental system for much needed preventation care. The results of this study can be utilized to focus educational programs toward the importance of prevention.

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© Elizabeth K Adams