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Patterns of Utilization and Experiences of Children in Dental Care Following the Reform in Dental Care in Israel

By: Yael Ashkenazi1, Shlomo Zusman2, Lena Natapov2
Completed By: May 2014

Abstract

Background
Maintaining healthy teeth in childhood may prevent problems later in life. In an attempt to improve accessibility to dental care for children, a 2010 reform added dental care for children (currently to age 12) to the National Health Insurance benefits package.

 

Objectives
To examine patterns of dental service utilization among children eligible and ineligible for the service under the reform

 

Methodology
Telephone survey of families with children aged 2-16. Altogether 1,749 interviews were conducted. Response rate: 69%.

 

Main Findings
Children aged 2-11  (included in the reform): 64% saw a dentist over the past year and 45% had regular preventive check-ups (even when there is no problem). Education, ethnic origin (Jewish), positive attitudes to dental care, and regular check-ups by parents had a positive correlation with check-ups for children.
71% of dental visits over the past year were at health plan or contracted clinics, and a quarter at private clinics. Arabs with low socioeconomic status received less dental care than Jews with low socioeconomic status. Arabs tended to visit private clinics more often than Jews. A fifth of children receiving treatment had transferred to health plan frameworks following the reform.
Children aged 12-16 (not included): 69% had seen a dentist and 51% had gone for regular preventive check-ups over the past year.

 

Conclusions
The findings indicate a high uptake of the services included in the reform.  Gaps were found in various measures according to ethnic origin and socio-economic status. Arabs depend more than Jews on private services. There is a strong correlation between parents' attitudes and dental care for their children.

 

Recommendations
 Give serious considerations to extending the reform to additional age groups.
 Increase public education on dental hygiene.
 Improve accessibility for the Arab population and increase the available clinics in this sector.

 

Research number: R/97/2011

 

1) Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute
2) Ministry of Health