Rural and low-income pediatric populations have limited access to dental care. Caries screening and prevention can be easily performed by pediatricians and family physicians when dental services are not available due to location or funding constraints. Oral health education is not adequately covered in medical school and may not be addressed in family medicine residency programs. The purpose of this study is to determine what dental services Washington family physicians are currently providing, what they believe their role is in providing dental services, and what knowledge gaps exist in their provision of caries screening and prevention services. We hypothesize that physicians who currently work in rural or with uninsured or underinsured children will be more likely to provide these services and will be more knowledgeable about these services. Trends of surveys are indicating that both rural and younger physicians are more apt to provide oral screening in their physical examinations. Similar trends are seen among physicians with largely Medicare/Medicaid insured patient populations. Although these trends are promising, there is still an apparent insufficiency of oral health screening and education, indicating a need for further awareness and education efforts among Washington family physicians.
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