DentaQuest and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement are calling on school districts and oral health stakeholders to work together to preserve school-based access to care.
As schools begin returning to virtual and in-person learning, many low-income, Medicaid-enrolled students are at risk of losing school-based dental care, DentaQuest and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement warned.
Many school districts across the country have had to postpone school-based oral health (SBOH) programs, and others are considering the same. SBOH has become a crucial way to connect low-income students and families with dental care, providing services such as screenings, sealant application, fluoride treatment, cleanings and diagnostics. For some students, SBOH is their first encounter with a dental provider. For others, it is their only source of dental care and only access point for health care in general.
“We provide Medicaid dental coverage to more than 27 million people nationwide, the majority of whom are children,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest, the leading dental benefits administrator in the country. “The ability for children to access oral health care at school or during an after-school program is a game-changer for families, especially those with more limited resources.”
DentaQuest and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, which together make school-based care possible for more than 100,000 students across the country, are calling on school districts and oral health stakeholders to come together to help preserve school-based access to care for children and families who rely on their dental programs each year.
As DentaQuest and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement point out, many school districts are open to exploring alternative options. Expanding the use of teledentistry, setting up alternate locations for care and ensuring that proper infection control measures are incorporated in all in-person care settings are all being evaluated and tested.
“We know that oral health directly impacts a child’s overall health, and ensuring children have preventive dental care will help address deep disparities in health care,” said Dr Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and Catalyst Institute. “We urge communities to find new and creative ways to continue offering school-based oral health to students, especially during these challenging times. We will continue to be a source of information and support for these efforts.”