Action for Dental Health

Dr. Norman

“Dentists across the country are tackling the barriers that impede too many Americans from adequate access to regular dental care,” said ADA President Dr. Charles Norman. “As part of the Action for Dental Health movement, we are sharing their stories to recognize those already involved and encourage others to join them.”

These are the stories that showcase ADA’s Action for Dental Health, assembled at as they develop. Your ADH story is invited.

Profile of a CDHC: Jenna Linden
During two short-term sabbaticals—one in Vermont and the other in Florida—Jenna Linden helped coordinate care for and provide oral health education to more than 2,800 people last year. As a Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC), Ms. Linden addressed barriers for oral health by providing patient navigation for people who typically do not receive care for a variety of reasons—among them poverty, geography, language, culture and a lack of understanding of oral hygiene and the importance of regular dental visits. Visit Action for Dental Health at for the rest of the story.

Colorado Dentists Pledge to “Take 5” Medicaid Patients
For the first time in Colorado history, adults will qualify for limited dental coverage through the state’s Medicaid program this spring. To show their support of the expanded dental coverage, dentists are taking part in the Colorado Dental Association’s Take 5 program, which asks members to provide care for a minimum of five Medicaid patients or their families, according to Molly Pereira, associate executive director of the association. Colorado’s dental Medicaid reimbursement rate is less than half of the commercial rate, according to the ADA Health Policy Resources Center (HPRC). Visit Action for Dental Health at for the rest of the story.

Maine Dentists Provide Coordinated Oral Health Care for Head Start Students
What began with a group of dentists seeking to provide care for Head Start students has expanded into an effort to provide coordinated oral health care for all MaineCare (Medicaid)-eligible children. When the Dental Home Initiative, part of a national program to find dental homes for Head Start students, was launched a few years ago, Maine orthodontist Dr. Donald Cassidy saw an opportunity to help ensure that more children get the dental services they need. Visit Action for Dental Health at for the rest of the story.

Ohio Dentists Press Legislature for Medicaid but Offer Skin in the Game
Ohio dentists are pressing the Legislature for Medicaid reforms this spring while investing in their own solution to the health care crisis. The state currently ranks 40th in the nation in reimbursement for Medicaid dental services, with the program operating on a fee schedule developed in 2000, according to David Owsiany, executive director of the Ohio Dental Association. Visit Action for Dental Health at for the rest of the story.


Florida Dental Group Provides Care to the Homeless
As Florida dentists prepare for the first two-day, statewide event aimed at providing free care for the underserved, one dental group has created a model that extends care year-round. The state’s first Mission of Mercy program, hosted by the Florida Dental Association through the Florida Dental Health Foundation is expected to provide care for 1,600 to 2,000 patients March 28-29. It targets underserved populations by amassing more than 300 dental practitioners and 1,000 support volunteers throughout the state in Tampa, where they will offer care to anyone who attends the event. Visit Action for Dental Health at for the rest of the story.

“Dentists are characteristically shy about promoting the good that we do,” said Dr. Norman, ADA president. “But it’s critical that we tell these stories, that we keep a steady drumbeat as a constant reminder to policymakers and other stakeholders that there is great need out there, that we are prepared to lead with actionable, proven solutions, but that dentists alone cannot stem an epidemic of untreated disease among our most vulnerable populations.”

The Action for Dental Health page at also offers reports on ADH initiatives, press information and the National Press Club launch.

Provide Care Now
Reduce the number of people who visit the emergency room for dental conditions by referring them to community health centers or private dental practices, where they can receive proper dental care.

Expand access to care for the elderly in nursing homes. Approximately 1.3 million nursing home residents face the greatest barriers to accessing dental care of any population group.

Increase programs where dentists can directly provide care to those who are suffering from lack of dental care today. Programs like Give Kids A Smile and Missions of Mercy provide important platforms for dentists to deliver care directly to those in need.

You can develop these stories in your community. Visit Action for Dental Health at for more information.

Strengthening the Dental Safety Net
Help provide more care to people by having private-practice dentists contract with Federally Qualified Health Centers. By partnering or contracting with community health centers, private practice dentists are able to help those safety net facilities expand their capacity to provide care to underserved populations (primarily children on Medicaid), without increasing the clinics’ ‘bricks and mortar’ expenses and staffing overhead.

Fight for increased dental health protections and simplified administration under Medicaid. This proven solution has dramatically improved access to care in some states. A combination of fee increases and administrative reforms in Connecticut’s Medicaid program in 2008 increased the number of participating dentists from fewer than 200 to more than 1,200.

You can develop these stories in your community. Visit Action for Dental Health at for more information.

Prevention and Education
Ensure more Americans have access to drinking water with fluoride, “one of the most effective choices communities can make to prevent health problems while actually improving the oral health of their citizens” as the U.S. Surgeon General described it.

Increase the number of Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs)
CDHCs are community health workers with dental skills focusing on education and prevention. They forge strong relationships with people in underserved communities with disproportionately high rates of dental disease.

Strengthen collaborations with other health professionals and organizations. Better collaboration among dental and medical professionals can be a means to ensure all Americans understand that their dental health is a crucial part of their overall health.

You can develop these stories in your community. Visit Action for Dental Health at for more information.

Press Information
Visit Action for Dental Health at for ADH and access-related news releases, an info graphic on the “dental divide” in America, related research and letters of support from other health organizations.

National Press Club Launch
On May 15, 2013, the American Dental Association launched Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, a nationwide campaign addressing America’s dental health crisis. In conjunction with the campaign launch, ADA leaders, health care leaders and members of Congress spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. They elaborated on the need to take action and what steps the ADA would take to close America’s “dental divide.” Visit Action for Dental Health at for the multimedia story of the ADH launch, videos from the press conference, the speeches and the question-and-answer session.

“If you’re involved in efforts to help needy people get care, if you know of a colleague who is or, most important, if you want to get involved, please let us know,” Dr. Norman said.

The Association invites you to share your ADH story by contacting Rhys Saunders in the ADA Public Affairs department at

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