Dental coverage doesn't guarantee its use

January 16, 2014|By Meredith Cohn

Those who have dental insurance don’t always use it to get care, according to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

The researchers found that education is needed before people value their dental health, which can impact their overall health.

“You can’t just hand people coverage and say, ‘there, that’s better,’” said Richard J. Manski, professor and chief of Dental Public Health at the dental school. “You need to offer some inducements, some promotional campaign to change people’s attitudes and beliefs. We hope this starts the process of a new way of thinking about the problem.”

Manski was the first author on the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers looked at older people who had insurance and didn’t have coverage to see who was using care. They found some factors keeping people from getting care can’t be changed such as age. But health status changes and attitudes can be influenced through outreach – though it will take time.

Other factors increasing use of dental care include improving the economy and unemployment rate, as well as increasing the number of providers.

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