When it comes to affordability and access to health care, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) has launched Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement that provides care now to those already suffering from dental disease, strengthens and expands the public/private safety net, and brings dental health education and disease prevention into underserved communities.
According to a release from the ADA, Action for Dental Health is comprised of here-and-now solutions led by ADA dentists working with existing dental team members in a system designed to get more people the care that they need now.
A recent report by the ADA’s Health Policy Institute shows that the number of dentists practicing per 100,000 people today has climbed more than 4% from 2003 to 2013, and is projected to climb 1.5% from 2013 to 2018 and 2.6% by 2033. The supply of dentists should be enough to serve America’s needs.
However, the ADA recognizes that people in underserved communities have difficulties connecting to public health resources and dentists who can provide needed treatment. To address this, the ADA created a new dental team member, the Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC). CDHCs are already active in eight states, and a community college in Florida is adopting the CDHC curriculum and will start accepting students later this year.
Access to dental care is improving for children. A Health Policy Institute study shows the rate of children visiting the dentist was at its highest in 2012, and from 2000 to 2010 dental visits among low-income children increased in 47 states. Recent preliminary unpublished data shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates a downward trend in early childhood caries with increased treatment of children.