United States – Access to dental health continues to be a big problem for millions of Americans. Although many are on Medicaid, few dentists accept that program. The Department of Health & Human Services awarded $156 million to 420 health centers around the country to help fight this issue.

Dental health is a huge issue in America. Many lower income citizens, from children, to seniors to homeless, cannot afford a visit to the dentist. Dental benefits are not compulsory for adults under Medicaid but are suppose to be for children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

According to the last National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 92 percent of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.

Nationally, forty-two percent of pediatric dentists participate in the social programs, according to the American Dental Association, but it varies from state to state. For example in Florida is around the thirty percent. For both adults and children, it is tough to obtain benefits out of the coverage since dentists say reimbursement rates are too low, which means there is trouble getting appointments.

For children is an extraordinarily complicated problem, since the lack of dental health may keep them out of school, and if untreated, can lead to serious complications. In Connecticut, there are denounces about individuals that, even though are on Medicaid, had not had a dental examination in years, and had even been informed that the teeth infection could spread to other parts of their bodies.

Dental health is often seen as a luxury for many families of middle and low incomes.

According to the American Dental Association, twenty percent of low-income adults have teeth in a bad condition. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2013, that only twenty percent of adults with Medicaid had a dental visit in the last year, compared to forty 9 percent of adults privately insured. In the other hand, barely seventeen percent of adults uninsured had a dental revision last year.

Adult visits to private dental offices fell around 9 percent in six years, from 2006 to 2012; they have instead turned to emergency departments and health centers, both reporting increases of twenty percent and seventy-four percent, respectively. Sadly, health centers have serious trouble supporting the needs of patients regarding the level of dental services.

On June 2016, the Department of Health & Human Services awarded $156 million to 420 health centers around the country to help deal with the dental coverage problem.

Secretary Burwell stated that “oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being [and that] the funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”

Martin Kramer, head of the communications office claimed that “It’s the first time the grants are targeting oral health services.” According to the Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 108 million Americans are uninsured or have troubles finding a health provider that works with their coverage.

Sources: Ridgefield Press