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Dental Care in the Underserved

Powerful Essays
“In 2007, the nation spent $98.6 billion on dental services, yet many children and adults went without the services they need to prevent and control oral disease. We have interventions that can not only prevent disease but also save money” (CDC 34). Oral health for the general public, especially the underserved, has been consistently overlooked. Low-income families and developing countries, who are the most vulnerable to oral problems, are the population that is the most ignored. Five and a half percent of people, in 2007, either could not receive dental care or were putting it off. The main cause of this is money. Many insurances are not accepted by dental clinics because of the high costs of dental exams (Institute of Medicine. 38, 88). If this is not the case, why are these people delaying in protecting their oral health? What most people do not know is that oral health affects overall health. This realization began in 1944 with the Public Health Service Act; it was asking for a movement protecting oral health as it was linked to overall health (Imes par. 4). More research is coming out on this subject, but already bacteria from periodontal disease has been found in the brain, lungs, and heart (Institute of Medicine. 33). With oral health being increasingly important and low-income families and countries being underserved, the government has started to initiate programs to improve oral health geared towards the underprivileged. The water fluoridation and school-based dental sealants are two successful programs started by the government (“Oral health.” CDC par. 41). These programs however do not reach enough people, especially the people who are part of the underserved. With oral health as important as it is, more... ... middle of paper ... ...ty net is thrown to those people for rescue. The safety net for dental care is not an insurance plan. The safety net is many programs providing, usually one day, free oral health care clinics. These programs include: community health centers, school-based sealants, and state and local health departments. Although these programs are free and directed toward the underserved, it is estimated that 80-100 million people are not receiving benefits from the safety net (Institute of Medicine. 82-85). Many of the safety net programs stem from government initiatives. Furthermore, there is no indication that the safety net clinics are inferior to private practice dental clinics (Institute of Medicine 85). The increased government involvement in these programs will contribute to the success of more of the underserved receiving the dental care that they desperately need.
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