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    Addressing the gap in dental delivery care for all Americans

    Recent findings show the dental care delivery system is not working for a large portion of Americans.

     

    The second change Pew suggests is to increase the number of school-based dental programs around the country that that provide sealants to low-income kids. Research shows that low-income children are almost twice as likely as high-income kids to suffer from dental decay. Koppelman says school-based sealant programs that target low-income kids have been found reduce tooth decay by an average of 60 percent over five years. A low-cost treatment, a sealant is one third of the cost of a filling. 

    “We know they work and we know that low-income kids need them the most,” Koppelman says. “Schools are where we know we can find children every day. So it makes sense to bring the care to the children.” 

    To achieve this change, Pew explores removing, improving or modifying state-wide policies that get in the way of increasing these programs. 

    More dental news: Study finds disparity in tooth decay rates in Hispanic, non-Hispanic white children

    What can you do to bridge the gap in dental care?

    Pew’s dental campaign facilitates access to dental care for those hardest hit by promoting policies that increase the number of available providers in the affected areas, as well as by working at the state and federal policy levels for improvements to expand the reach of preventative services. However, there are things individual clinicians can do to bridge the gap for dental care access, too, including:

    Hiring a dental therapist to accommodate more patient care in office and in underserved areas in states where they are authorized.

    Accepting more Medicaid patients.

    Supporting their local oral health primary care association’s action agenda.

    Contracting to provide care for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in their area.

    Extending office hours outside of business hours for working people and their families.

    “A lot of people don’t have the flexibility to be off during traditional business hours. Being open later in the evenings or on weekends would open access to a lot of families,” Koppelman says. 

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