Mobile Dentistry Services Filling Care Gaps in California
Mobile dentistry services in California are filling a gap in care for the elderly and other patients who face barriers to traditional office visits, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Details of Mobile Dentistry
To provide mobile dentistry services, dentists and dental hygienists make house calls for patients, including those in residential care facilities and skilled nursing facilities.
Mobile dentists and hygienists generally treat:
- Elderly patients who cannot, or do not want to, travel; and
- Younger patients with mental or physical health conditions that make it difficult to visit a dentist's office.
According to the Bee, costs for mobile dental care vary. Specifically, including travel costs:
- Mobile dental hygienists charge between $135 and $200 for a deep teeth cleaning;
- Mobile dentists charge $90 to $150 for an initial consultation and between $80 and $175 for a regular exam; and
- An exam, including X-rays and cleaning in a private home, can cost about $300.
Some patients pay out-of-pocket for care, while others have the practitioners bill their health plans or Denti-Cal. Denti-Cal is the dental program for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Need for Mobile Dentistry Services
California Dental Association spokesperson Alicia Malaby said about 30% of California's population faces barriers to dental care, such as transportation and financial challenges.
Malaby said the mobile visits can "eliminate" such barriers.
According to the Bee, several barriers can challenge the delivery of mobile dentistry services, such as:
- Ergonomic issues when treating bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients;
- Issues treating patients with Alzheimer's disease and other mental health issues; and
- Patients in nursing homes being unable or unwilling to receive care (Buck, Sacramento Bee, 1/4).