Promoting Oral Health
Our multi-year oral health initiative addresses access for Missourians from all angles.
Brushing Up in Missouri
Created in 2013, our Oral Health initiative strives to identify coverage gaps, develop innovative strategies, and create/improve opportunities to increase access to oral health services.
Why it matters.
The discontinuation of Medicaid oral health benefits in 2005 left more than 850,000 adults in the state without dental coverage, with it only returning in mid-2016. As for children, oral health care coverage is provided through Medicaid, but only approximately 34 percent of eligible patients utilize it. A shortage of oral health care providers in low-income and rural areas has also proven to be a substantial hurdle for patients.
According to the Missouri Health Department, there are approximately 60,000 yearly emergency room visits from non-traumatic dental problems, costing around $17.5 million each year. Further hospitalizations from these issues are associated with an additional $13.5 million in hospital charges annually.
How we’re changing things
Our three-pronged approach to increasing access to oral health care in Missouri includes: multiplying touchpoints, increasing providers, and expanding insurance coverage and acceptance.
Our work so far includes support for both A.T. Still University’s School of Dentistry in Kirksville, and their St. Louis Dental Education and Oral Health Clinic, which opened in 2015. We have also partnered with a variety of organizations to help purchase additional equipment and to pilot new ideas, such as mobile dental clinics.