Access to oral health services remains one of the greatest unmet health needs for children and low-income adults, causing millions of lost hours of school and work. Gaps in the dental workforce leave many rural, urban and tribal communities without adequate access to care. Geographic isolation, language barriers, and the lack of dentists, familiarity with the special needs of some members of the population, such as the lack of economic stability, adequate insurance, consistent and continuous dentist/patient relationships, health literacy, culturally appropriate care, and trust, can all lead to gross inequities in the oral health care delivery system.
These inequities can result in poor school and work performance and impede employment. They also can diminish overall health contributing to adverse pregnancy outcomes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even death. Past attempts to address access have lacked an understanding of the above stated issues while others have made small inroads but have lacked resources.