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American Dental Association Tackles "Dental Divide"

May 20, 2013

Every generation of Americans hope to leave the next generation better off than they were. A national dental association has similar aspirations when it comes to America’s dental health.

Action for Dental Health: Dentists Make a Difference
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The American Dental Association (ADA) announced on May 15 a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of adults and children with untreated dental disease. “Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference” is a multifaceted campaign consisting of oral health advocates and professionals, members of Congress and national media representatives.

The campaign was launched following a Harris Interactive online poll of 1,200 U.S. adults, between April 24-29 conducted on behalf of the ADA.  Study results revealed “a disturbing dental divide” confirmed in earlier studies by the ADA, including:

  • Nearly half of lower-income adults had not seen a dentist in a year or longer
  • Eighteen percent of lower-income adults shared that they or a household member had sought treatment for dental pain in an emergency room (ER) and only six percent of those reported their problem was solved
  • Nearly one in five lower-income adults 18 and older are more than twice as likely to have all their teeth removed than other income groups
  • Forty percent of lower-income adults believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help with their dental care but the ADA’s Health Policy Resources Center reports that the estimated 5.3 million adults expected to gain coverage through the ACA are almost all due to Medicaid expansion in the few states that provide dental benefits. (Earlier this year Dental Wire reported that the ADA estimated that up to three million children will gain dental coverage through the insurance exchanges by 2018.)

According to the survey about 40% of low-income people have used dental insurance for some or all of their dental costs.

"We've made great progress, with each generation enjoying better dental health than the one before," said ADA President Dr. Robert Faiella. "But there's still a dangerous divide in America between those with good dental health and those without. Our mission is to close that divide. Good oral health isn't a luxury. It's a necessity."

The ADA is pursuing three action areas to close the dental divide:

  • Provide care now to those with untreated disease The goal would be a 35% reduction in those using the ER for dental conditions by 2020; implement a long-term care program in 10 states for nursing home residents by 2015, and expand ADA’s Give Kids a Smile’s local community programs.
  • Strengthen and expand the public/private safety dental care net to more Americans  The goal would be to  increase by 175% the number of patients receiving oral health services by 2020, and increase by 10% the number of states that have fast-tracked the credentialing process of receiving Medicaid services to less than one month.
  •  Expand dental health education and disease prevention into communities The goal would be to ensure that 80% of Americans using public water supplies have access to optimally fluoridated drinking water by 2020; double the number of states offering active Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHC) from seven to 15 by 2015, and have CDHC’s offer dental education and prevention services to help navigate the dental health system.

Sources:, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire,

Copyright 2013, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC
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