Many people have dental coverage but still don’t go to the dentist. Why? There are many reasons patients don’t make or keep dental appointments, including: lack of time, fear, challenges finding a provider- particularly if the patient is covered by Medicaid, transportation or child care issues, and work schedules.

In Thurston County, CHOICE Regional Health Network is working to improve access to care by expanding their care coordination services to include adult pregnant and diabetic patients. This work is part of pilot program approved by the Washington State legislature. Thurston County was selected because of the community’s successful work implementing innovative health care models, like the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program. Pregnant and diabetic patients between 21 – 64 who are covered by Medicaid will be referred to dental care and receive care coordination support from CHOICE staff. Dentists who are Oral Health Connections (OHC) trained and certified will receive enhanced fees for certain procedures. The OHC pilot launches on January 1, 2019.

For the past year, CHOICE has supported over 125 oral health providers in becoming certified to receive these funds. CHOICE care coordination services include scheduling appointments for patients, resolving barriers to attending dental appointments, discussing patient fears and anxiety around oral health, and sharing health education materials. Statewide, the ABCD program has led to a huge increase in access to dental care. CHOICE is eager to translate those best practices to the adult Medicaid population through the Oral Health Connections program.

Call us at 360-539-7576 ext. 103 or email us at for more information and to find out how to get a referral to a dentist.

Why Pregnant and Diabetic Patients?

Good oral health is especially this segment of the population because oral health, including periodontal (gum) disease, is linked to adverse outcomes in pregnancy and to diabetes complications. Moms with active tooth decay can pass cavity-causing germs to their babies, increasing the chance that their babies will get cavities. The demands of pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women, including increased risk of gingivitis, enamel erosion, cavities, and decreased likelihood of brushing.

  • During pregnancy, a bad tooth or gum infection can create serious health problems for mom, and potentially baby too.
    • Only 40% of women report having their teeth cleaned during pregnancy.
    • After delivery, moms with tooth decay can pass cavity-causing bacteria to their babies and toddlers by sharing utensils, and cleaning pacifiers in their mouths. If moms have untreated tooth decay it greatly increases the possibility that their babies will get cavities before age two.
    • Tooth decay is easily preventable and babies with good oral health are more likely to enjoy a lifetime of better oral health. Cavities in baby teeth can spread to adult teeth.

Diabetic patients also face unique challenges maintaining their oral health care. Gum disease makes it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed.

Call us at 360-539-7576 ext. 103 or email us at for more information and to find out how to get a referral to a dentist

By Admin