Dedicated to optimizing oral health in Alabama and beyond, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Dentistry has established collaborative partnerships with a wide variety of health- and dental-care partner organizations within the Birmingham community and across the state. These cooperative ventures provide opportunities for students to work with diverse patient populations, while extending access to dental care to Alabama’s underserved. We invite you to learn more about our community partners and outreach programs here.
Access to Dental Care
Alabama’s barriers to dental care access among low-income, rural and underserved patients include:
- Few preventive dental care programs in Alabama and limited distribution of dentists, particularly in rural areas of Alabama. It has been estimated that, in recent years, there were 4.2 dentists per 10,000 in urban areas of Alabama, but only 2.5 dentists per 10,000 in rural areas.
- Economics issues affecting low-income adults, many of whom live in rural and inner city areas. Currently, in the US, only Alabama and Tennessee lack dental coverage (including emergency care) for adults under Medicaid.
- Lack of understanding of the importance of oral health and the consequences of neglect. This is a global health problem that we are addressing at UAB.
For more information on Alabama dental care resources and accessibility you can visit this interactive MAP.
UAB Dentistry is working to overcome the barriers…
Recently, the UAB School of Dentistry secured a three-year $1.5 million federal grant, allowing us to provide recently-graduated dentists with seed funds to serve rural or underserved areas of the state. To receive funding, a dentist must accept up to 30% Medicaid patients into their practice and serve in the same location for at least four years – although we hope the practice will continue for a lifetime! In addition to seed funding, this grant affords travel funds for D4-year dental students to serve under Adjunct Faculty in rural community- and public-health center partner sites so they can be exposed to the needs of the rural underserved in a more personal way. The grant also supports several programs focused on improving dental access and care of the special needs patient population.
UAB School of Dentistry’s rural programming includes plans to expand our Advanced Education in General Dentistry training program. Our goal is to partner with medical residency training programs located in regional rural areas across the state to provide our graduates with more opportunities for advanced training right here in Alabama. Additionally, expanding our existing partnership with UAB Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Optometry and Physicians’ Assistants, we are collaborating with the Alabama Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to encourage rural high school science students to consider the dental and other health professions. With DentaQuest Foundation funding, we hope to train health professional students to work collaboratively and prepare them to understand when they will need to make patient referrals to their health or dental colleagues when they enter practice.
UAB Dentistry Cares Community Day
Annually, UAB Dentistry partners with the Alabama Dental Association, Birmingham District Dental Society, Cahaba Valley Health Care, and UAB School of Nursing, in addition to dental supply and laboratory companies, local businesses, and others to host UAB Dentistry Cares, an entire day of service to our community’s most needy. We invite you to learn more about the program here or to see our community day in action!