More people than ever have insurance that includes a dental benefit. People with good oral health are more job ready, have greater self-esteem and better overall health.
“My dental services are as vital to me as my medical care and part of the blood work I do. Dental care is a necessary part of life. If I couldn’t maintain my cleanings on my SSI, I would lose that tooth, I would lose that molar, and when it’s all gone, what do I do? I’m not talking about a cosmetic vanity thing. It’s a matter of what would I eat? It’s a matter of health”
Challenge: The unmet need for dental care is high in Alameda County. Last year, AHC health centers saw more than 200,000 low-income people in the East Bay, and were only able to provide dental services to 1 out of every 3 Medi-Cal beneficiaries who came in for care. Oral disease in adults and children is higher in low-income communities. The lack of clinic space is the limiting factor in our ability to fully serve the community with the level of dental services needed. Two-thirds of the patients who receive medical services at AHC health centers still cannot get recommended dental care due to lack of clinic space.
Our Approach: Increase community health centers’ capacity to integrate dental and medical care through improved access and quality of care. AHC health centers are working on capital expansions that will result in more than 45,000 more people having access to dental services at 11 locations throughout Alameda County.
In addition, the State 1115 Medi-Cal Waiver Whole Person Care and Dental Transformation Initiatives provide opportunities to scale-up prevention of untreated urgent dental needs in adults and children. We work with our partner health agencies and health centers to align these opportunities to the needs of our communities.
Find resources, including fact sheets, about the 1115 Waiver Dental Transformation Incentive initiative here.
Learn about the connection between oral and mental health from Asian Health Services Chief Dental Officer Dr. Huong Le.
Read about California’s challenge in providing access to dental care in the Little Hoover Commission report Fixing Denti-Cal.
Resources from California Department of Public Health Rethink Your Drink Campaign about the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.