Dentist flossing young boy's teeth.

Access to Dental Care

According to the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), over half of adults aged 20 - 64 who are below the federal poverty level report their teeth in either “fair” or “poor” condition, while less than 50% see a dentist regularly due to lack of private or public insurance. Medicaid dental coverage is not available for adults in all states.

Not only do Alabama’s most compromised citizens lack understanding of the importance of oral health and the consequences of neglect, they lack access to care. Alabama’s barriers to dental care access among low-income, rural and underserved patients include:

  • There are few preventive dental care programs and limited distribution of dentists, particularly in rural areas of the state. It has been estimated that, in recent years, there were 4.1 dentists per 10,000 in urban areas, but only 2.4 dentists per 10,000 in Alabama’s 54 rural counties.
  • Only Alabama and Tennessee lack dental coverage (including emergency care) for adults under Medicaid. This impacts low-income adults, many of whom live in rural and inner city areas.

A Global Health Problem

To optimize oral health locally and globally, the School of Dentistry has developed collaborative partnerships with a wide variety of health- and dental-care partners for a myriad of outreach activities.

Together, these cooperative ventures provide opportunities for our students to work with diverse patient populations, while extending access to dental care to the underserved.

Dental Care Resources and Accessibility

For more information on Alabama dental care resources and accessibility, visit this interactive map.