Tooth Talk

If you are a parent or caregiver, you know that kids are always on the move. Having an active child means that accidents can happen at any time, including to primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. The International Association of Dental Traumato ...

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Finding a Dentist, Coverage and Medicaid

Finding a Dentist

Both general dentists and pediatric dentists are trained to care for young children and are patient and caring with them.

General dentists treat people of all ages, however, some general dentists don’t see children under the age of three. If your client’s child is over the age of three, there’s a good chance that the dentist the parents see will agree to see their child as well. If the child is younger than age three, parents may need to call a few dentists before they find one who will see the child.

Pediatric dentists treat only children, just as pediatricians are medical doctors who treat only children. Pediatric dentists have special training to treat children from when they are infants through their teenage years.

There are many ways to find either a general dentist who treats young children or a pediatric dentist who only treats children. 

Families can:

  • ask their child’s regular doctor
  • ask their general dentist
  • ask friends and family
  • call their dental or health insurance company
  • If your client doesn’t have dental coverage, they can get low cost or free care at dental safety net providers throughout Rhode Island.

Dental Insurance

  • Families can get dental insurance in different ways.  Some families may get dental insurance through one or both of the parents’ jobs. Dental insurance may be linked together with medical insurance in the same plan, or it may be through a separate dental insurance plan.
  • Families who don’t have dental insurance offered through their jobs or can’t afford it may qualify for RIte Smiles dental insurance that is offered for children through RIte Care.  
  • RIte Smiles / RIte Care - If your client’s child has RIte Smiles coverage through RIte Care, they can learn more by calling UnitedHealthcare Dental/RIte Smiles Member Services at (866) 375-3257 or visiting the RIte Smiles website.
  • Delta Dental of Rhode Island - If your client’s child has Delta Dental of Rhode Island coverage, they can get help finding a dentist by calling Customer Service at (800) 843-3582 or visiting www.deltadentalri.com
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island - If the child has Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island coverage, families can get help finding a dentist by calling Customer Service at (800) 831-2400 or visiting www.bcbsri.com
  • If the family has dental coverage that is not on this list, they can find the Customer Service number on the back of their insurance card.

Tips on Finding a Dentist and Dental Coverage

Families who are expecting a baby should plan to put their newborn on their dental insurance coverage soon after the baby is born. When the baby goes for a first dental visit after parents see a first tooth, the insurance company will already have the baby listed as part of the family. This way, the insurance company will pay for the visit.

Dentists may accept a family’s dental coverage, but may not be accepting new patients. Encourage families to keep calling different dentists until they find one that will see their child. Their dental insurance plan can help them find an available dentist.

Unless it is an emergency, parents can expect that their child’s first appointment may be a few weeks or months away. Remind them to make a note in their calendar so that they don’t forget it. Keeping that appointment will put the child on the path of healthy smiles for a lifetime.

Dental plans may cover different dental services. Families will need to check their plan to see what their insurance will pay for and what the family may have to pay for separately. Most insurers will cover exams, cleanings, and other preventive care such as fluoride treatments. Sometimes, dental insurance plans will pay part of the cost of a service (such as a filling or having a tooth pulled), but will require that patients pay part of the cost too.

Help families make finding a dentist for their child a priority, and they will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy smiles!

TeethFirst! Creating healthy smiles for a lifetime.