Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms of Service

Oral Health - Breaking Down the Barriers

  • Published: 2011-02-23 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-13) : Author: American Dental Association
  • Synopsis: Challenges and solutions to bringing good oral health to the millions of Americans who lack access to dental care.

Main Document

"The Role of Workforce also emphasizes that workforce changes alone can never overcome the many barriers that prevent too many Americans from attaining good oral health."

ADA Statement Examines the Role of Adequate Workforce in Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health...

The American Dental Association today released the first in a series of papers examining the challenges and solutions to bringing good oral health to the millions of Americans - including as many as one-quarter of the nation's children - who lack access to dental care, many of them suffering with untreated disease. The paper focuses on workforce, an umbrella term for the numbers, location and makeup of the teams comprising dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and other existing and proposed providers.

Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Role of Workforce also emphasizes that workforce changes alone can never overcome the many barriers that prevent too many Americans from attaining good oral health. It warns that focusing on only this one barrier is "the policy equivalent of bailing a leaky boat." Future ADA papers will address those other barriers, including the tattered public health safety net, and the need to dramatically increase both disease prevention and financing.

The paper disputes the conventional wisdom of a coming shortage of dentists, projecting that later-than-predicted retirement, increased numbers of dental school applicants and the opening of new dental schools will provide an adequate number of dentists through 2030. Instead it argues that the challenges are 1) placing dentists whether in private practice or government-assisted clinics in more so-called "underserved areas" that otherwise cannot support a full-time dental practice, and 2) addressing issues that impede securing and keeping dental appointments, such as excessive paperwork, transportation, child care and permission to take time off from work or school.

"We know that the existing delivery model can accommodate millions more people, provided that we address administrative and financing barriers, and workforce distribution," said ADA President Raymond F. Gist, DDS. "Everyone deserves good oral health, and everyone deserves a dentist."

Several examples are cited in which states or municipalities have dramatically increased dental services provided to disadvantaged children through a combination of relatively minor funding increases and administrative reforms. They include the children's dental Medicaid programs in Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan and the creation of a public-private dental clinic in Vermont. The improvements in these programs made it possible for much greater numbers of patients to receive care from the same population of dentists as existed before the reforms occurred.

The paper cautions against a rush to create so-called "mid-level" dental providers who, with as little as 18 months of post-high school training, could be allowed to perform such irreversible/surgical procedures as extracting teeth. Such experiments, it argues, are likely to sap resources better directed toward proven methods for extending the availability of care from fully trained dentists. It does however endorse such workforce innovations as the ADA's own Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) pilot project. CDHCs follow the highly successful (medical) community health worker model, providing health education and preventive services, identifying patients needing dental care and helping those patients secure and keep appointments with fully trained dentists.

"When all stakeholders and we are all stakeholders set aside lesser differences and recognize our aligned purpose, set ambitious yet realistic short- and long-term goals, and pursue those goals with renewed vigor, we can effectively end untreated dental disease in America," said Dr. Gist.

Breaking Down Barriers to Oral Health for All Americans: The Role of Workforce is available at www.ada.org/sections/advocacy/pdfs/ada_workforce_statement.pdf

Similar Topics

1 : Oral Thrush: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments : Thomas C. Weiss.
2 : Orthodontic Care for Patients with Disability : American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
3 : Improving Oral Health of Adults with Developmental Disabilities and Support for Caregivers : Tufts University, Boston Health Sciences Campus.
4 : Tonsillectomy Surgery Procedures and Information : Disabled World.
5 : Dental Checkups - Reasons Not to Skip Oral Exams : Pennsylvania Dental Association.
From our Oral Health section - Full List (51 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Autism Prevalence Increases to 1 in 59 US Children
2 : Yelp Reviews of Nursing Homes Tend to Focus on Staff Attitudes and Responsiveness
3 : Non-Invasive Spinal Stimulation Enables Paralyzed People to Regain Use of Hands
4 : What if You Could Know Your Mild Cognitive Impairment Would Not Progress?
5 : Millennials Fail to Understand Dangers of Tanning
6 : Appetite Loss After Exercising Explained
7 : Bias Keeps Women with Higher Body Weight Away From the Doctor
8 : Smart Hoteliers are Building a Healthier Future


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™