Innovative states and communities have been able to design programs that connect families with the preventive care needed to stay healthy. These programs have solved problems of health access and shown significant long term improvements for children and families – but many places still don’t have access to these innovations.
Why is this important?
Background and rationale for focusing on the indicator.
A 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General called dental disease a “silent epidemic.” Overwhelming numbers of individuals exhibit serious dental diseases , contributing to poor overall health, hospital emergency room visits for preventable dental conditions, missed school and work days and other consequences (1). Access to oral health care services is one of the important determinants of oral health status. The American Dental Association recently presented a data summary (2) that stated: “Utilization of dental care has declined among working age adults, particularly the young and the poor. Dental benefits coverage for adults has steadily eroded the past decade, again particularly for young and poor adults. Not surprisingly, more and more adults in all income groups are experiencing financial barriers to care”. The result of this lack of access to oral health care has been labeled as a “dental crisis in America” by the United States Senate (3). Studies show that patients who are able to access dental care and receive preventive and therapeutic dental services are better able to prevent and control dental diseases such as dental caries (3). We have chosen three indicators to illustrate the level of access to oral health care services for one high risk patient group of children in Florida and one indicator to illustrate the effects of lack of access to oral health services for the general population in Florida.
How will we know this has been achieved?
Data Development Agenda:
Priorities for new or improved data Focus Area: Improved access to and utilization of quality oral health care
- Percentage of Florida schools with school-based sealant programs
- Percentage of untreated decay in vulnerable populations (3rd Grade, Head Start, Older Adults)
- Percentage of public with access to dental care • Rate of oral health program development
- Present all data through the health equity lens