DHH forms effective Dec. 1

Staff reports

Starting this month, the Louisiana Medicaid Program began reimbursing physicians for applying fluoride varnish twice each year to the teeth of Medicaid recipients between 6 months and 5 years of age.

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein announced the addition in a news release last week.

Previously, Medicaid only covered the service when a dentist performed it.

"Our top priority is to promote and protect the health of Louisiana's children,” Greenstein said. “Good oral health is critical to leading a healthy, active life, so we must make it a priority.” Fluoride varnish is a simple and painless step parents can take to improve the quality of their children's lives, and cannot wait until the first time they see a dentist, he said.

Fluoride varnish is a gel coating proven to assist in preventing and potentially reversing dental problems for at-risk children.

The American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend fluoride varnish application at least twice per year for children at moderate or high risk of developing cavities. To determine if a recipient is at moderate or high risk, providers reference the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's Caries-Risk Assessment Tool.

With the implementation of the updated fluoridation varnish policy, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses will now be reimbursed for applying fluoride varnish.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's first dental visit occur as soon as the first tooth erupts, which is usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Allowing additional provider types to administer fluoride will improve the overall health of children who otherwise may have not received an oral exam through a dental provider, while potentially decreasing future cost of untreated dental diseases in this population.

Further information is available at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog, Twitteraccount and Facebook.