Dental Campaign

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More than 63 million people in the United States live in areas with dentist shortages. Access to care is also limited for the 72 million children and adults who rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program: Only about one-third of U.S. dentists accept public insurance.

Left untreated, dental health problems can cause pain and tooth loss, impair children’s growth and social development, impede productivity and job opportunities, exacerbate chronic conditions, and complicate detection of oral cancers. And when dental pain becomes too severe to ignore, many people—more than 2 million in 2012—resort to emergency room visits, which provide no treatment for underlying oral health problems but have a high price for patients and taxpayers: $1.6 billion in 2012, with Medicaid’s share totaling $520 million.

Pew’s dental campaign works to close gaps in dental care access by increasing the number of available providers and expanding the reach of preventive services through the use of dental sealant programs in high-need schools. Research shows that such programs are a valuable, cost-effective way to treat the children most at risk of tooth decay


What is a Dental Therapist?

For more than 125 million Americans, basic dental care is out of reach. But there’s a solution...

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Who Lacks Access?

Certain populations face more serious barriers to dental care access.

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Our Work

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  • Arizona Joins States Authorizing Dental Therapy

    Arizona has joined the growing number of states that license dental therapists to expand access to high quality and cost-effective dental care. Read More

  • Dental Therapy Timeline

    More than 63 million people in the United States live in areas with dentist shortages. Dentaltherapy is a proven solution that has helped increase access to care. Dental therapists aremidlevel providers who deliver preventive and routine restorative treatment at schools, nursinghomes, and veterans homes to people who would otherwise struggle to get access to care. Read More

  • Dental Therapists Can Provide Cost-Efficient Care in Rural Areas

    A recently released study from Minnesota shows that a dental therapist can be a cost-efficient member of a rural dental clinic’s team, with average daily billings only slightly lower than those of clinic dentists. The findings suggest that expanded use of these therapists can improve access to oral health care—as envisioned by state legislation adopted in 2009—while keeping... Read More

Media Contact

Jennifer Stapleton

Manager, Communications