Task Force Highlights Dental Care Disparities in Sonoma County
Last year, Sonoma County had about 15 dentists for every 109,000 low-income residents, according to a study scheduled to be released by the Sonoma County Task Force on Oral Health, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
The report found that in 2009, 52% of Sonoma County third-graders had a history of tooth decay, well above the state average. The study also noted that county third-graders from low-income families are more than twice as likely as children from higher-income families to experience untreated tooth decay.
The report listed several factors that could be contributing the disparities in dental care. For example:
- Denti-Cal -- the dental program under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program -- no longer covers adult dental care;
- Most private dental practices will not see children with Denti-Cal because of low reimbursement rates; and
- Medicare does not cover routine dental care.
The task force recommended strategies aimed at addressing the county's dental care disparities, such as:
- Expanding access to dental services though local health centers and mobile clinics;
- Recruiting dental hygienists to provide services in primary care settings; and
- Training primary care providers to provide oral health assessments (Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/16).
Mobile Dental Clinic Providing Care in San Francisco
In related news, a mobile dental health clinic called Tooth Travelers recently set up shop in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The program is providing no-cost oral health care to homeless and low-income patients enrolled in Glide Health Services, a nurse-run program at Glide Memorial Church's foundation (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.