11:00 AM

Make oral health a part of the conversation

By Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation

In today’s rocky economic climate, community health centers (CHCs) across the country have become the primary source of medical and dental health care for millions of people. In fact, many refer to CHCs as “America’s health safety net.”

Earlier this month, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced awards of $28.8 million to 67 community health center programs across the country. These funds, made available by the Affordable Care Act, will help establish new health service delivery sites to care for an additional 286,000 patients.

As I stated in my last entry, CHCs provide primary health care services to 23 million individuals, most with limited financial resources; however, not all CHCs have the capacity to provide dental care. To give you a sense of the issue: more than 12 million CHC patients do not have access to dental care services.

DentaQuest Foundation has responded to this challenge with the Strengthening the Oral Health Safety Net Initiative, a $1.75 million investment to strengthen oral health delivery at CHCs across America.

But our investment alone is not enough. According to a recent statement from the American Dental Association (ADA), significant progress with the dental safety net will not occur until the nation places greater emphasis on oral health. We at the DentaQuest Foundation agree. Oral health must be part of the conversation, both at the individual, local community, and government levels.

As the ADA says, “Silence is the enemy. Let’s take the ‘silent’ out of ‘silent epidemic.’”