thThe W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has awarded a 2-year, $400,000 grant to the American Dental Education Association Minority Dental Faculty Development (ADEA MDFD) program to address oral health inequalities to underserved children and communities. The program aims to bring together academic dental health professionals with partners in their communities to create an environment in which regular dental care is attainable by all Americans.

Research indicates that minority patients are more likely to seek health care from a minority health care provider and that practitioners from underserved areas often return to those areas to practice. The ADEA MDFD program seeks to develop new, more diverse generations of allied dental health professionals prepared to meet the systemic, unmet need for dental care in the United States. It emphasizes best practices in outreach, leadership development, academic mentorship, and increasing diversity in the academic pipeline.

As of October 2014, there are 4,968 locations in the country designated as dental health professional shortage areas, where there are 5,000 or more people per dentist. This lack of access to oral health care affects Americans of all ages–adults with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty line are three times more likely to have untreated oral health care needs, and it is worse for children. In 2010, 4.2 million children aged 2 to 7 years were in need of dental care and did not receive it.