The Difference Dental Care Makes
“Dental care is like taking my meds,” says Francisco Segura. “It’s a lifesaver. I’m not talking about a cosmetic or vanity thing. It’s a matter of, what would I eat? It’s a matter of health…I am 61 years old. I have been disabled since 2000, which is when I went into HIV treatment. Having dental care has impacted how I fight disease.”
Oral disease in adults and children is higher in low income communities, and two out of three people with Medi-Cal or HealthPAC coverage can’t visit a dentist due to lack of health center capacity. People with oral health are more job-ready, have better overall health, and have greater self-esteem. Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) health centers offer dental services, but some are closed to new dental patients due to the shortage of dental stations available. At other sites, this capacity challenge has patients waiting months to get in to an appointment.
Since receiving treatment, Francisco adds, “I’m able to eat without restriction, and I don’t have low self-esteem that comes with having a lot of missing teeth. When you’re my age, certain concerns become more prominent. If I didn’t have my health center I don’t know where I would go. 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?”
Alameda Health Consortium asks the community to step up and speak out to support efforts to build and expand dental services at community health centers. Everyone deserves to see a dentist at least once a year. Typically dentists recommend coming in every six months for dental care, yet two-thirds of our patients can’t access this care even once a year. Help us promote timely, accessible dental care for all.