Connecting Children with Dental Care and Improving Lives for 20 Years

Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) is a system of care in Washington state that connects Apple Health (Medicaid) insured children from birth up to age six with specially-trained dentists in their communities. It’s important that young children get care early, as a child with dental disease may have oral health problems throughout life. Cavities can be painful and interfere with a child’s ability to focus and learn in school, eat, speak and even play. Yet, cavities are almost entirely preventable, and prevention saves money for everyone.

ABCD was launched in Spokane in the mid-1990s. At that time, only one-fifth of young children in Washington were accessing dental care. Today, more than 54 percent of eligible lower-income children birth to six—about 178,000 kids statewide —are receiving ABCD’s essential preventive care, treatment, and restorative services. Thanks to ABCD, Washington is a national leader in the percentage of lower-income young children accessing dental care.

How ABCD Works to Improve Children’s Health

Dentists participating in the ABCD program are trained and certified to care for young children. Certified dentists receive enhanced fees for certain procedures and support to participate in and bill Apple Health. ABCD families are coached about the importance of accessing early preventive dental care and learn how to care for their children’s oral health at home. Families who need extra help making and keeping dental appointments receive assistance from local ABCD program staff.

“ABCD gets children into care at a young age, when we can focus on prevention. Preventing cavities early can lead to a lifetime of better oral health and overall general health for children.”

The ABCD Public-Private Partnership

ABCD is governed and managed by a public-private partnership. The public and private partners are: