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.
UAB Dentistry is working to overcome the barriers…
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ALABAMA DENTAL CARE RESOURCES AND ACCESSIBILITY YOU CAN VISIT THIS INTERACTIVE MAP.
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
Each year UAB Dentistry teams with the Alabama Dental Association, the Birmingham District Dental Society, Cahaba Valley Health Care, and other sponsors and partners to host UAB Dentistry Cares, and entire day of service to our community’s most needy. UAB Dentistry faculty, staff, and student volunteers work alongside community professionals to provide emergency dental care to over 500 homeless and underserved, giving priority to patients suffering from dental infections or pain. Participating patients also receive oral health counseling, blood pressure checks, and oral cancer screenings. All told, nearly 350 dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and others give up a day of work to help patients in need.
UAB Dentistry Cares helps raise awareness of the increasing difficulty that low-income adults face in accessing critical dental services. These oral health barriers can elevate chronic health conditions, reduce employability, and lead to the preventable use of costly acute care. Although a Medicaid dental program is available for children, Alabama is one of only four states in the nation with no public dental coverage for low income adults. UAB Dentistry’s annual charitable event highlights the plight of these needy people and challenges dental professionals to work together to improve the oral health of the citizens of Alabama and beyond – a mission we are passionate about at UAB Dentistry.