Oral Health Disparities: Children With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Galenti, Elizabeth Stark
Children of low socioeconomic status (SES) families with intellectual and developmental disabilities have higher rates of dental caries but significant unmet dental needs due to unique factors such as low Medicaid reimbursement rates, confusion surrounding plan choice, and poor provider availability. As a result, children with disabilities experience disproportionate oral healthcare costs and out-of-pocket expenses. Utilizing a critical disability theory lens to review the available published literature by Health Policy, Medicaid and Special Education disciplines revealed not only how to describe what people should research but also how they should approach improving oral health for children with special healthcare needs. Drawing on connections between the literature and the overall cultures of these fields it was concluded that existing literature used the medical model of disability. Therefore, ableism was identified as a cause of oral health disparities for children with special healthcare needs. Adopting the social model of disability will improve oral health outcomes for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.