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Children's Dental Health Month: Finding the Right Dentist

February 22, 2010
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Seeing a dentist is among the top fears for young children, according to Parents Magazine, and for some, the fear continues well into adulthood. That's why pediatric dentists and child experts say it's important to make sure a visit to the dentist is a positive experience.

But how do you find the right dentist for your child if you're in a government health coverage program? Two programs, Healthy Kids and Healthy Families, offered through the country's largest public health plan, L.A. Care Health Plan, make it easy. 

"Families can choose a dentist from among more than 1,100 dental locations when they sign up for Healthy Kids, much like a primary care physician on the medical side," said Sharon Lee-Chi, manager of product operations at L.A. Care Health Plan. "Often, parents have a dentist in mind or look for someone in their area."

L.A. Care serves more than 800,000 Los Angeles County residents, with some 25,000 children enrolled in the First 5 LA and Children's Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles-funded Healthy Kids program. In addition to no or low monthly premiums, there is a zero or $5 co-payment for comprehensive dental services, including twice-a-year cleanings under Healthy Kids, according to Lee-Chi.

Healthy Families, the state’s version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is offered through several health plans in Los Angeles County, also has low monthly premiums, plus co-payments ranging from zero to $10 for dental care. It has about 225,300 members in the county who have access to thousands of dentists and specialists.

Whether a family has public or private health insurance, the goal for all parents is the same -- finding the right dentist for their child. Keep the following in mind to help ensure the right match for the children in your life: 

  • Ask for recommendations from friends, family and other parents.
  • Look in a directory of dentists, or click on "find a pediatric dentist" on the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry's Web site, (a pediatric dentist may be considered a specialty under some plans).
  • Call possible dentists and find out if they treat children. Set up a consultation. This will give you and your child a chance to meet the dentist, ask questions and see if they have a child-friendly office.

For information about Healthy Kids, visit, or call (888) 4LA-Care. The Web site also has a link to free or low-cost clinics that provide dental services. To learn more about Healthy Families, call (800) 880-5305, or visit

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It's really hard to find a

It's really hard to find a dentist for kids. It's not only about specific education - it's about how the physician is able to prepare kids for treatment and how to talk to them.

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