American Student Dental Association
MyASDA Login
The Issues
Barriers to Care
2016 Barriers to Care

Barriers to care include anything that limits or prevents people from receiving adequate health care. In the case of dental care, the most common are financial hardship, geographic location, pressing health needs and poor oral health literacy. Language, education, cultural and ethnic barriers may compound the problem. In many cases, multiple issues are involved. To access the necessary care for their dental needs, patients may require transportation, oral health education and/or financial assistance.

Barriers to care can leave patients with serious conditions that threaten their overall systemic health and quality of life. As of June 19, 2014, there were 4,900 Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). It would take 7,300 additional practitioners to meet every HPSA community's need for dental providers (a population to practitioner ratio of 5,000:1).

  • 47 million Americans are affected by barriers to care
  • More than 16.5 million 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

ASDA Policy

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 Annual Session 2011 that helps better define and communicate the issue. Read the article. 

ASDA does not support the use of midlevel providers to solve the barriers to care issue.

What Has ASDA Done

At National Lobby Day 2016, ASDA members met with lawmakers to advocate for H.R. 539, Action for Dental Care Act, which would enable organizations to provide dental services to underserved populations through grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

ASDA members sent more than 1,000 letters to members of Congress encouraging them to pass the Action for Dental Care Act.

One hundred fourteen co-sponsors signed on to this legislation while ASDA was advocating for this bill.

ASDA members are very active in supporting initiatives that address barriers to care. Many chapters are involved in projects like Give Kids a Smile and Missions of Mercy, which provide dental care to patients who may otherwise go untreated.

Read about ASDA members’ perspective on barriers to care in the following articles:


Pacific Dental Services ADA Heartland Dental


© 2016 American Student Dental Association; Feedback? Contact Us
211 E. Chicago Avenue, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60611  |  Phone 800-621-8099, ext. 2795 or Direct 312-440-2795  |  Fax 312-440-2820  |  Privacy & Security Policy