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Access to Care
For children with special health care needs, access to care and use of available services may be limited. In fact, dental care is the most common unmet need in the special needs population in the United States. According to the 1994-1995 National Health Interview Survey, children with special needs are twice as likely to not have their dental needs met than their
aged-matched peers.

The involvement of oral health professionals helps to promote oral health and identify and treat problems early. Children with special health care needs may face barriers to accessing appropriate oral health care, some
of which are listed below:
Transportation or physical access to the building for the physically challenged (eg, wheelchair bound).
Financial strain, especially with multiple visits or expensive restorative work. Most insurance companies pay only a portion of restorative work, leaving families with private insurance responsible for a large fee.
Insurance coverage (see Referrals).
Oral health may be viewed as a low priority for families if their child faces multiple medical concerns.
Dental care is the most common unmet need in the special needs population.
For children with special health care needs, there are many potential barriers to accessing dental care.
Transportation, financial burden, insurance concerns, and professional availability are only some of the barriers families have to overcome to receive dental care.
Pediatric health professionals should help families to prioritize and address their child's oral health.
View the Chapter 7 Photo Gallery.