Low-income adults and children who are able to see a dentist at the same location as their primary care doctor are more likely to get dental care, yet almost three out of five community health clinics in California either don’t offer oral health services or, if they do, the nearest facility is sometimes too far for many patients to reach, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
The study also showed that of the remaining clinics offering on-site dental care, nearly a quarter lack full-time dentists or dental hygienists and see less than half the number of dental patients they could be serving. The study, funded by the First 5 LA 21st-Century Community Dental Homes Project, includes nearly 900 community health centers, where about 4.9 million low-income people receive primary care.
This year, CPEHN has joined the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2020 initiative to focus on addressing oral health inequities using a social justice lens. Through this effort, we are working to highlight the oral health needs of California’s communities of color in an effort to reduce disparities in health outcomes and access to care.
Since we are new to this oral health effort, we are always eager to learn about new ways to advocate for oral health equity. Next week, on August 12th at 11 am, DentaQuest Foundation is hosting a webinar, Effective Advocacy for Oral Health, which will provide some insights into what health advocates can do to improve oral health in their communities. The event will feature speakers from Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin and will illustrate how we can be stronger advocates for system change.
The webinar will cover advocacy basics and feature real-life examples of successful efforts. From DentaQuest Foundation’s description of the event:
It is important to recognize that decision-makers like politicians make decisions in part based on their perceptions of public demand. Successful advocacy is therefore all about getting your message across in the most effective way to ensure that politicians and governments know what matters to you and the people in your community. Individuals and groups like you have the power to drive systems change!
At CPEHN, we’re always working to promote health equity on a number of fronts. Earlier this year, we joined with the DentaQuest Foundation in a nationwide effort to improve oral health equity for California’s low-income communities and communities of color. Part of the foundation’s Oral Health 2020 initiative, we are partnering with several other grantees in the state, including Latino Coalition for a Health California (LCHC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA, SCOPE LA, Central Valley Health Policy Institute, and Vision y Compromiso, to build a grassroots movement for oral health.
Earlier today, DentaQuest Foundation hosted a Twitter storm with the Children’s Dental Health Project and Northeastern University’s Innovations in Oral Health to promote health equity and raise awareness of oral health disparities across the country. The discussion, using the hashtag #iamhealthequity, resulted in a lot of great information and resources for improving oral health in underserved communities. CPEHN’s founding ethnic partner and partner in the DentaQuest project, LCHC, also participated in the Twitter action today. Here are some highlights, but be sure to check out the full discussion on Twitter here: