Expanding Oral Health Care Access

Serving New York State’s Underserved Communities

Access to oral health care should be everyone’s right

Access to dental care is essential to maintaining oral health—which is key to overall health and quality of life. The unfortunate reality is that regular, high-quality dental care is not possible for many, leading to oral health care disparities.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities in particular face disproportionate barriers to achieving optimal dental health, including lack of access to routine preventive and therapeutic care. They receive dental evaluations approximately 17 percent less frequently than the general U.S. population and are significantly less likely to receive treatment overall.

New York State’s academic dental centers have long served as safety nets for people with disabilities and are often the only available option for their oral health care. In 2018, our six dental centers had nearly 340,000 Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care patient visits, including more than 18,000 visits by patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Initiatives & Programs

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Dental Education

Careers in dental medicine should be accessible to all

Black and Hispanic/Latino people make up over 30 percent of the United States’ population but represent fewer than 10 percent of its dentists. What’s more, both groups also face more barriers to oral health care and experience more health disparities. Research shows that people are more likely to seek health care, follow through with treatment plans and maintain better health if they see providers of the same race or ethnicity.

We work with our members to provide educational opportunities to advance diversity and inclusion in New York State’s dental schools, with the ultimate goal of addressing oral health care disparities.

Initiatives & Programs

The Future of Dental Education

Developing Innovative Initiatives in Dental Education

Dental education should empower and support future dentists to treat underserved communities

The average dental school graduate faces a quarter-million dollars of educational debt. Meanwhile, the salary gap between entering a private practice and working in underserved communities or in academic dentistry continues to grow. Financial concerns should not dictate where and how today’s students and residents will practice dentistry.

We are committed to expanding pathways to alleviate financial burdens on dental students and residents. In particular, the New-York-State-funded loan forgiveness programs are aimed at creating scholarships and fellowships for recent graduates intent on serving patients with special needs.

Initiatives & Programs