Objectives: To examine the role COVID-19 had on access to dental services among children in Arizona by comparing paid pediatric dental claims made before and during the pandemic. Methods: In a retrospective descriptive study, we examined Medicaid paid claims for dental services among pediatric patients from March through December 2019 and during the outbreak in 2020. Using dental claims data obtained from the Centers for Health Information and Research at Arizona State University (ASU), we analyzed Medicaid (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System [AHCCCS]) reimbursed dental services. Results: During the COVID-19 pandemic, paid preventive dental claims for children aged birth to 21 years decreased in 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Pediatric patients in Arizona utilized fewer dental services and had less access to credentialed Medicaid dental providers during the pandemic. Further, rural counties had statistically significant fewer preventive, minor restorative, major restorative, and endodontic claims compared to urban counties. Arizona rural counties also had fewer providers who were paid $10,000 or more per year during 2020 than in 2019. Conclusions: COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on pediatric dental service utilization. While dental services were provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, preventive and restorative dental claims dropped for rural Arizona children aged birth to 21 years. This reveals potential negative impacts on oral health. Further research should examine the direct and indirect impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on dental service utilization and oral health for the general pediatric population.
- dental claims
- health services accessibility
- oral health
- rural health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health