skip to content
Primary navigation

Oral health

While Minnesota ranks near the top in many areas of health care, providing access to dental care is not one of them. In fact, Minnesota ranks near the bottom of all states in providing dental services for children and adults enrolled in Medicaid. This failure impacts about 40 percent of the children in the state.

Minnesotans with lower incomes enrolled in state health insurance programs experience higher rates of dental disease and greater difficulty accessing dental services. More than 60% of children with Medicaid coverage in Minnesota did not see a dentist in 2016 and 2017. That’s about 377,553 kids in 2017 alone.

Even with dental coverage, many Minnesotans with Medicaid coverage go years without seeing a dentist because they can’t get appointments or don’t have access to providers in their communities. In 2016, nearly 30,000 people with Medicaid coverage drove more than 70 miles to see a dentist.

"I finally found a dentist after two years. It took so much wrangling and fighting. I felt like I was ignored for a long time. People out there need resolutions." — Rachel from St. Paul, who struggled to find a dentist who took patients on public health care programs.

Download dashboard data

Dentists want to serve their community, regardless of patient income, however the current approach is not working. Spending has gone up while dental access has gone down. Low dental reimbursement rates and complex administrative rules have led many dental clinics to no longer participate or serve the one out of five Minnesotans with Medicaid and MinnesotaCare coverage.

"I cannot adequately meet the dental needs of my rural and small-town patients given the state’s current funding for dental programs. This deeply frustrates me personally and professionally when the people I help at the food pantry, see on the street and worship with on Sunday morning, I cannot see in my dental clinic for reasons beyond our control." — Greater Minnesota dentist

 To close the dental divide, more resources can be smartly invested to:

  • Create an equitable rate structure that pays all dentists the same rates for the same services and helps dental practices statewide, including in rural areas, serve more people in their communities.
  • Raise rates 54 percent for adult dental care and 24 percent for children’s dental care.
  • Create a common administrative structure for dental services across state health care programs to increase efficiencies for dental providers and reduce the burden and costs associated with multiple payers.

Learn more

back to top