Finding a Good Medicaid Dentist For Your Child

As a parent and Medicaid beneficiary, you may find that locating a good Medicaid dentist for your child is like looking for the famed needle in the haystack. Sure, states are required to provide dental benefits to young Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) participants, but getting a hold of a dentist who

  1. a) accepts Medicaid and/or CHIP
  2. b) accepts new Medicaid patients
  3. c) is in the neighborhood, and…
  4. d) makes your child feel at ease

can be a time-consuming and sometimes unrewarding task.

Here are some tips to make your search for a great Medicaid dentist a little easier.

Start Online

Tuck away the Yellow Pages and head to the website to start your search. You can also access your Medicaid provider’s website (for example, Dentaquest or MCNA) to access a list of providers. These websites typically allow you to search by city and/or zip code, as well as specialty, to narrow down your list of results.

Get Recommendations

Do you know other parents who receive Medicaid benefits for their children? Ask them where their child gets dental care and whether they like the provider they’re with. Your child’s preschool may also be a good resource – teachers and staff talk to other parents on a regular basis and may have heard positive (or negative!) things about certain dentists in your area.

Think About Convenience

Who has time to drive across town for a dentist appointment? Narrow down your list of prospective providers by keeping your own convenience in mind. Dental offices with multiple locations in the same city or town offer the added benefit of having a location nearby, no matter whether you’re at home, at work, or at a little league baseball game.

Dentist offices with extended evening and weekend hours quickly rise to the top of most parents’ lists because time is something busy moms and dads are notoriously short of, especially when they work outside the home. Squeezing your children’s dental visits into a dentist’s 9-5 business hours means time lost at work, time away from school, and time chipped from family dinners, errands, hobbies, and other to-dos. Finding a dentist who operates on YOUR schedule is worth his (or her) weight in gold.

Check Out Prospects

Eventually, you’ll have to do some leg work in the form of personal visits to dental offices that deserve further consideration. Pick up the phone first to whittle down your list a little more.

Ask questions like:

  • Are you accepting new Medicaid/CHIP patients?
  • Do you have dentists on staff who specialize in pediatric dentistry?
  • What is your approach to treating children and/or teen patients?
  • Do you offer special accommodations for young patients, such as movies in the waiting room, a toy table, etc.?

There. This should narrow down your list of prospects to one or two practitioners.

Keep Emergencies In Mind

Dental emergencies don’t always happen during normal business hours, either. In fact, as any parent can attest to, they tend to occur at the most inconvenient moments, don’t they? A chipped or broken tooth during a Sunday outing to the skating rink; a painful cavity that rears its head after a Saturday candy binge; a wisdom tooth that starts acting up in the middle of a Tuesday night – and children who could care less about the dentist’s business hours because they’re in pain, now!

An extended evening and weekend schedule is helpful here, too, but even then…be sure to ask the prospective provider about after-hour emergency policies:

  • Will an answering service get the dentist on the line? Send you to an affiliate location?
  • Can a prescription be called in after hours to keep your child comfortable until the dentist’s office reopens?
  • Are emergency walk-ins accepted?

Like all parents, moms and dads of children on Medicaid/CHIP deserve answers to their questions, quality dental care for their child, peace of mind, and confidence in their child’s treatment. Good dental care is paramount to the overall health and well-being of your little one, and no parent should have to compromise on health or dental care for their child.

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