Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

The National Oral Health Surveillance System (NOHSS) is the result of a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors which is designed to monitor aspects of oral health and disease on both a national and state level. The NOHSS ranks Kentucky at or near the bottom in most oral health indicators. The primary message of the Surgeon General’s May 2000 report on Oral Health in America was to emphasize the link between oral health and overall health including the effect on day‐to‐day activities such as work and school attendance.

As one of the University of Kentucky’s six healthcare colleges, the College of Dentistry’s mission focuses on improving oral health within Kentucky and beyond. This is accomplished through a multi‐pronged mission including research, outreach, education of future dentists, and providing patient care to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The College also administers a self‐funded dental insurance product, UK Dental Care, which is offered to the University’s employees and their families.

The focus of this paper is on the College of Dentistry’s provision of dental services and how the analysis of this utilization data can aid the College in fulfilling its mission of improving oral health. Data were extracted from axiUm, the College of Dentistry’s dental patient management software, which contained the frequency of treatment encounters between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010 for patients in one of four payor groups. The data also included the age, gender and treatment cost for each encounter as well. The dataset was subdivided into adult and child datasets and further divided into age groups.

Research has shown that receiving preventive dental services decreases the need for more expensive services in the future. It has also been shown that individuals with dental insurance are more likely to seek dental services than those who are uninsured and those who are female are more likely to report a visit to the dentist than males. While additional analysis is needed to evaluate the effect of early preventive services on this population, it was shown that the frequency of treatment encounters for both females and the insured were higher than for males and the uninsured.

The results of this analysis led the author to make the following recommendations. Additional data analysis is needed to understand the characteristics and utilization patterns of the 25% of child treatment encounters which were uninsured and to evaluate the benefits and feasibility of the University fully or partially funding dental insurance benefits for its employees. Conducting an access‐to‐care analysis would inform the College’s administration of the current state of appointment availability and the potential impact of increasing volumes resulting from patient education and marketing. Lastly, additional financial resources should be allocated to fund a full‐time dedicated manager for the College’s self‐funded dental insurance product, UK Dental Care.