The Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program was initiated in 1995 to improve access to dental care for Medicaid-eligible children from birth through 5 years in Washington State. This multiple approach program, in cooperation with local dental societies,  educates dentists and families on the importance of early preventive dental care. Participating dentists are trained in early pediatric dental techniques and become certified ABCD providers.  The following are components of the program:

  • Dentists receive training regarding pediatric dental techniques
  • The dental staff are trained in communication and follow-up procedures.
  • Case managers work with patients and providers to set up appointments, make referrals to health and social service programs, and billing.
  • Participating dentists receive enhanced reimbursement rates on certain Medicaid preventive and restorative procedures codes. 
  • Medicaid covered services including an initial comprehensive exam, two annual periodic exams, three fluoride applications per year, two oral health education sessions per year, and emergency visits as needed.
  • Parents have dental care education available through home visit, Head Start, WIC, or other community-based organizations.


The results of the program have been remarkable.  ABCD program has expanded to operate in 30 of Washington’s 39 counties, with over 900 dentists trained in early pediatric techniques and are ABCD certified. Access to care for Medicaid-enrolled children under age six has increased from 21% in FY 1997 to 39% in FY 2008. For children under age two, nearly 19% now receive Medicaid dental care as compared with 3% during FY 1997. The number of providers billing for treatment of Medicaid patients under age two has increased from 484 in FY 2003 to 649 in FY 2008.. The success of ABCD also has involved of primary care medical providers in addressing the oral health of young children during well-child checkups and creates a strong referral resource. The ABCD program has achieved substantial gains in provider participation and patient utilization, however, there does not seem to be any recent reports regarding further successes of the program.