The Good: Patients that visit a dental clinic can receive high quality low income dental care at a fraction of the cost of a private dental practice while also receiving care from up and coming experts in the field of oral health.
The Bad: Many Americans are experiencing barriers to getting the dental care they need.
The Ugly: According to the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), 181 million Americans will not visit a dentist to receive professional dental care this year.
Literally millions of Americans experience barriers to care that prevent them from seeking the treatment and preventative care they need. Oral health leads to better overall health. Barriers that prohibit or limit a patient being able to access dental care include economic/financial hardship, geographic location, lack of education about the importance of oral health and hygiene, and other pressing health issues that take precedence.
Access to dental care for low income individuals and families, racial or ethnic minorities, those who are elderly, and those fighting chronic disease is also often challenging. Language barriers, hardship traveling to a dentist’s office, paying for other health issues and basic daily living needs such as food and clothing, lack of dental insurance – all are challenges to accessing dental care faced by low income individuals and families – a problem that has been identified and addressed by professional dental organizations in recent years.
Groups like the ASDA and the American Dental Association (ADA) have been lobbying for legislation to be passed so that patients in underserved populations, in any socioeconomic group, can receive the dental care they really do need, helping individuals and families overcome the barriers to access.
In 2015, the Action for Dental Health Care Act was introduced in Congress as legislation that would provide funding for community dental organizations through grants given by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and “improve essential oral health care for lower income individuals by breaking down barriers to care.” The ADA is committed to partnering with Congress and oral health care providers to service all Americans who desire such with the care they need to lead healthy and happy lives.
Penn Dental Medicine, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia, PA, is proud to be a part of the solution to this problem of barriers to accessing dental health. At Penn Dental Medicine, we offer our patients affordable, patient-centered oral health care in an educational, clinical research setting. To find out if you are eligible to participate as a patient in our program and schedule your initial examination, call us today at 215-898-8965.