Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center

Mission Statement

To inform and advance research and policy development that will promote optimal children's oral health and care.


Activities of the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center

  • Conduct oral health policy research that advances children’s oral health issues and supports AAPD public policy and public relations initiatives at the national, state, local, and international levels with legislatures, government agencies, professional associations, and other non-governmental organizations.
  • Monitor and reports on state, national, and international data concerning the oral health status and overall health status of children
  • Develop and implement special project activities that advance children’s oral health issues and public understanding of such, in accordance with AAPD policies and guidelines
  • To produce timely and high quality policy analysis on critical issues impacting children’s oral health.
  • To produce useful studies and analysis to further the understanding of practices which will contribute to the oral health of all children

Latest News in Research and Policy (Click to Expand)

Year 3 DentaQuest Final Report Available: Caries Predictive Model for Primary Care Providers, Targeting Children at Greatest Risk Arrow_2_black

The third and final year of research exploring oral health promotion in primary care produced innovative and promising results in regard to streamlining caries risk assessment in the primary care setting. Based upon information noted in the early well-child visits, a predictive model was developed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that characterizes the likelihood a child would have oral disease or risks of future disease at the time of their first dental visit.

The study, with over 2,000 infants, produced a predictive model that suggests the odds of a child having tooth decay at the first dental visit more than doubles for every year of increased age. For example, a child who has a first dental visit at age 5 has nearly 20 times the odds of having cavities at that visit than a child who has a first dental visit at age 1. By delaying the first dental visit, parents take an unnecessary gamble on their child’s oral health.

Additionally, the study offers clues to assist health care professionals identify tooth decay risk in young children before even looking in their mouths. Starting at the 18-month well-child visit, health care providers can use five variables to assess the odds of future or present tooth decay risk. The five variables are:

  • Age of the child

  • History of a preventive dental health visit

  • Duration of breastfeeding (past age one)

  • No-show rate (such as broken appointments, etc.)

  • Preferred spoken language

With such a predictive tool, health care providers could easily administer caries-risk assessment as a part of the well-child visit without taking time from other equally important health concerns.

Click here to read the report.

Appendix A: Candidate Risk Factors Considered in Developing the Predictive Models



State-by-State Listing of Codes Covered by Medicaid, June 2018 Arrow_2_black

This listing of Medicaid coverage by individual states of selected dental procedures is an update of the version in Are Your Kids Covered? Medicaid Coverage for Essential Oral Health Benefits.

View the Listing of Codes Covered by Medicaid





Are Your Kids Covered? Medicaid Coverage for Essential Oral Health Benefits, September 2017 Arrow_2_black

AreYourKidsCovered_This technical brief presents the findings of a POHRPC research project on state Medicaid coverage of selected dental procedures by Erica Caffrey, DDS, MS, 2016-2017 Samuel D. Harris Fellow. Designed as a state-level advocacy resource, it identifies the pediatric dental procedures most essential for coverage, catalogs the coverage of these procedures by state, and specifies problem areas of coverage for oral health services.

Download Brief





Assessing Attitudes and Actions of Pediatric Dentists toward Childhood Obesity and Sugar-sweetened Beverages, Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 2017 Arrow_2_black

This article by Drs. Wright and Casamassimo was one of the journal’s top 20 most downloaded papers during 2017. The study investigated the attitudes, behaviors, and perceived barriers of pediatric dentist members regarding efforts to prevent childhood obesity and reduce children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Nearly 19 in 20 pediatric dentists offer information or other interventions on sugared drinks, while 3 in 20 offer guidance about weight management. Significant barriers to providing healthy weight interventions include fear of offending parents, appearing judgmental, or creating parent dissatisfaction with the practice.

View the Article





Pediatric Dentist Toolkit for Seeing Patients with Medicaid - Changing Children’s Lives One Smile at a Time, May 2017 Arrow_2_black

Cover_for_PCIf you are a new pediatric dentist, a pediatric dentist new to Medicaid, or both, you will find this toolkit an invaluable guide to getting a Medicaid program started in your practice. It features no-nonsense answers to common questions about how to appropriately administer Medicaid and offers a host of time-saving resources.

Download Brief




Drs. Wright and Casamassimo of the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center conducted a survey with pediatric dentists and residents to determine the attitudes, current behaviors, and perceived barriers of providing obesity-related information and other interventions to the parents of child patients, as well as providing information and other interventions about the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Click here to read the outcome.

The results will be presented at a national meeting titled "Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention" on November 3-4 in Washington, D.C. This invitational conference is an important event that will engage the oral health community in contributing to the prevention of childhood obesity. For more information, click here.



Advocacy Training for Pediatric Dental Residency Programs Arrow_2_black

This publication provides residents with knowledge and skills to incorporate the service of advocacy as an integral aspect of pediatric dental care. Released in September 2016, "Advocacy Training for Pediatric Dental Residency Programs" was authored by Homa Amini, DDS, MS; Jessica Y. Lee, DDS, MS; Courtney Chinn, DDS, MS; Paul Casamassimo, DDS, MS; and Robin Wright, PhD. The guide offers curriculum assistance to dental educators in developing and promoting programs in pediatric dentistry advanced education that enhance the oral health of all children, including those with special health care needs.

Click here to read a PDF version of the Advocacy Training.



According to the December 2014 Technical Brief, AAPD Public Policy Advocates are in an ideal position in their own states to prepare members to comply with Medicaid rules. The Brief discusses how Advocates can establish state-level relationships with public and private entities that share the goal of improved oral health for children; promote fair and consistent auditing practices; and educate members about relevant regulations, documentation standards and appropriate billing practices. In addition, the Brief offers practical tips for surviving an audit as a pediatric dental provider.

Click here to download the technical brief.



Commentary by Chief Policy Analyst

These commentaries by Chief Policy Analyst Dr. Paul S. Casamassimo offers a concise and insightful perspective on current research and policy issues impacting children’s oral health. They are disseminated not only to AAPD members but to other dental organizations and key policymakers.

Is There a Medical-Dental Divide in Pediatric Health Care?
February, 2017. While recent opinion has made much of the separation of medicine and dentistry and its influence on the limitations of the oral health care system, this commentary argues that the relationship between pediatric dentistry and pediatric medicine comes closer to being next-door neighbors than residing across a great divide.

Previous Issues:
December 2016: Conflicts of the Heart