The Issues
Barriers to Care

What Does "Barriers to Care" Mean?

Oral health only benefits those who have the ability to access it. "Barriers to Care" may be the effect of finances, geographic location, pressing health needs or poor oral health literacy, and can leave patients with serious conditions that threaten their overall systemic health and quality of life. To access the necessary care for their dental needs, patients may require transportation, oral health education or financial assistance. Language, education, cultural and ethnic barriers often further compound the problem.

  • The Facts 
  • 47 million Americans are affected by barriers to care
  • 16,511,502 children in the U.S. were not taken to a dentist in 2009
  • 29 states and 53 other countries permit expanded function to dental assistants

As of July 2, 2012 there are 4,382 Dental Health Professionals Shortage Areas (HPSA) with 43.8 million people living in them. It would take 8,811 practitioners to meet their need for dental providers (a population to practitioner ratio of 3,000:1).

ASDA’s Position

Resolution 305-RC-2011 Defining Dental Access  

Dr. Aaron Bumann, a University of Minnesota graduate and 2011-12 Legislative Coordinator, wrote an article about the term “barriers to care.” In this article he provides background to the resolution that passed at the House of Delegates during ASDA’s 2011 Annual Session. To view the article, click here.
ASDA does not support the use of midlevel providers to solve the barriers to care issue.


ASDA News Articles

On April 24, ABC News with Diane Sawyer reported the story "Hidden America: Medicaid's Youngest Face Dental Crisis." Watch the video below to learn more on the barriers to care issue.

Hear Dr. William Calnon, then ADA President, speak about barriers to care on the Nov. 15, 2011 PBS NewsHour interview called “Millions of Americans Face Life Without Dental Care.” Watch it here.


Defining Dental Barriers ASDA News Article

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