Improved Access to Dental Care in Florida

  • Roughly one in four (5,073,822) Floridians live in a Dental Care Health Professional Shortage Area.

  • Only 38% of Florida’s Medicaid eligible children received any oral health care in 2018.

  • In Florida, people older than 65-years who are also eligible for Medicaid (dual eligible) do not receive any dental benefits beyond extractions, pain management and some dentures. 

What Can Florida Do?

Florida Voices for Health is working with our partners statewide to make these policy recommendations a reality in Florida:

Include a Comprehensive Adult Dental Benefit in Medicaid

Currently, adults with Medicaid in Florida are only covered for pain relief in an emergency. Providing enrollees comprehensive dental benefits can improve access to preventative care and reduce unnecessary and costly ER use.

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Authorize Dental Therapists

Dental therapists are highly-trained oral health practitioners that provide education and preventive services as well as common dental procedures, such as filling cavities. Authorizing dental therapists in Florida would improve access to care, especially to people living in underserved areas.

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2020 Florida Oral Health Report

In the late summer/early fall 2020, Florida Voices for Health and the Florida Oral Health Equity and Progress Network (OPEN) hosted five virtual regional round-table discussions with oral health stakeholders across Florida.

 

The stakeholders represented the Florida oral health safety net providers: dental professionals, administrators, advocates, academics, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), and free and charitable clinics (F&CCs). 

 

They shared insights about the overall general state of oral health in Florida, systemic barriers to care, and the strategies they have used to mitigate barriers.

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Barriers to Oral Health Care

  • Unaffordable Costs of Oral Health and Dental Services

  • Oral Health Care System Lack of Capacity

  • Navigating the Health Care Safety Net

  • Awareness and Understanding of Dental Services

  • Linguistic and Cultural Mismatch of Providers and Consumers

  • Logistic Impediments to Oral Health Care

Impact of COVID-19

  • The interruption of service delivery during the "shutdown"

  • Increased costs to providers through enhanced infection prevention requirements

  • Diminished the availability of professional volunteer workforce

  • Exacerbated clients' fears of dental visits

  • Increased the pool of uninsured and unemployed clients in need of their services

Solutions to Improve Oral Health

  • Expand access to care through Medicaid expansion and a comprehensive adult dental benefit in Medicaid

  • Collaborate with academic institutions

  • Incentivize the use of strategic locations to provide services (mobile clinics, medical-dental integration, non-traditional hours)

  • Expand the use of tele-dentistry and community outreach

  • Authorize dental therapists in Florida

Florida's Oral Health Stories

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