Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD)

Our nationally recognized Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program ensures young lower-income children have access to dental care.  The ABCD program connects Apple Health (Medicaid) insured children under age six to dental care in their local communities.  To learn more about ABCD in your community, visit the ABCD website.

ABCD Partners include:

  • Washington State Health Care Authority
  • University of Washington School of Dentistry
  • Washington State Department of Health (WIC)
  • Washington State Dental Association
  • Local dental societies and community-based organizations

How ABCD works

Local ABCD programs connect eligible families with ABCD-certified dentists.  To become certified, pediatric and general dentists receive free training and Continuing Dental Education (CDE) credit from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in the clinical and behavioral aspects of caring for young children.  Staff also are encouraged to participate in the training because they are key to building successful relationships with families.  Once ABCD-certified, dentists are eligible to receive Apple Health (Medicaid) enhanced reimbursements for a range of procedures.

Local ABCD coordinators empower eligible families with information about the benefits of good oral health, home care and the importance of regular dental care.  Coordinators also identify transportation, interpretation, and other needs and connect families with resources.  The result is a positive experience for families and dental practices  – and improved oral health for children.

The ABCD storyABCD started in Spokane in 1995 when several dentists noticed an alarming rate of dental decay among young children, and decided to take action.  Recognizing the value of ABCD, the Foundation has invested in helping to spread the model across the state.  Since 1999, we have provided statewide leadership, management assistance, evaluation and advocacy as well as more than $3 million in 3-year startup grants for local coordination, case management, and community outreach.  As a result, all 39 counties now have ABCD programs.

This investment has paid off.  The percentage of Apple Health (Medicaid) insured young children with a dental visit has doubled in the last 10 years and the rate of untreated decay among lower-income preschoolers was cut by 35 percent. Washington is a national leader in preventive care for lower-income children.

ABCD reduces disparities, helps children get off to a healthy start and saves money. Dental costs are nearly cut in half for children who receive their first preventive visit by age one compared to children who have their first visit between the ages of four and five.  Pew Center on the States praised the ABCD program for achieving significant results while “delivering a strong return on taxpayers’ investment.”

ABCD Latino Children’s Oral Health CollaborativeLatino children experience higher rates of tooth decay and rampant decay than their non-Latino Caucasian counterparts.  According to the 2015 Smile Survey, Latino children experience a 50 percent higher rate of decay.To address this growing and urgent need, Arcora Foundation initiated the Latino Children’s Oral Health Learning Collaborative with the goal to improve oral health and decrease disparities for Latino children eligible for ABCD.  The Collaborative includes five ABCD programs, encompassing seven counties across Washington.  The goal is to learn about the needs and experiences of Latino families when they access oral health care and to discover and share best practices.

For details about ABCD, contact ABCD Program State Managing Director Kathy O’Meara-Wyman.