Too many Virginians lack access to dental care.
Dental disease hurts children, too -- it's the biggest chronic disease among Virginia children and causes 1 million lost school hours a year. For every person who has medical insurance, 2.6 people lack dental coverage. Some 64 of 135 Virginia counties — almost half the state — lack access to a dental clinic.
Medicaid includes preventive dental coverage for children, but less than 50 percent of enrolled children visit the dentist each year. For non-pregnant adults, Medicaid covers only emergency extractions, and Medicare offers no dental coverage. Pregnant women eligible for Medicaid and FAMIS MOMS were recently given comprehensive dental benefits.
The Affordable Care Act covers children, but adult coverage is not required. It can be purchased, or offered by an employer, but not everyone can afford those options. And not all communities have access to dental clinics.
The numbers say it all:
- 312,184 of Virginia’s kids ages 3 to 15 suffer from untreated dental decay
- 653,566 adults in the Commonwealth age 35 to 74 suffer from dental decay or moderate to severe dental disease
- 52 percent of new armed forces recruits had dental problems that delayed overseas deployments
And there aren’t enough resources:
- Less than 50 percent of eligible children take advantage of Medicaid dental benefits
- Less than 25 percent of the state's 4,000 licensed dentists accept Medicaid, in part because Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low
- 14 counties have no Medicaid dental provider
The Virginia Oral Health Coalition offers resources for Virginians seeking care, as well as background information on dental coverage and policy.