See the ‘Dental Divide’ infographic
There is a “dental divide” in America – a significant and troubling gap that exists between those
who can afford quality dental care, and those who cannot. The inability to access basic dental
care is a significant health issue for millions of children from low-income families. In fact, the
U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that oral care is the No. 1 unmet need for American
children. Lack of preventative dental care and access to qualified providers has been shown to
cause serious health problems and costly emergency room and hospital visits.
Many of our first-time patients have never seen a dentist prior to finding us, nor have they
received basic dental hygiene education. In some cases, patients do not have basic items such as
a toothbrush or toothpaste at their home. Many come to us with severe tooth decay and are in
great discomfort. The consequences of the dental divide are not pretty – yet this is the reality for
millions of Americans who cannot access quality care in their communities due to lack of private
insurance, low income status, or inability to locate a dentist who will accept Medicaid.
Kool Smiles is dedicated to closing this “dental divide” by ensuring all families have access to
quality dental care. Our goal is to provide first-rate dental services to communities, which are
often overlooked or are otherwise underserved.
Dental Divide By the Numbers:
More than 33 million American children rely on Medicaid coverage for dental care.
Approximately 80 percent of U.S. dentists refuse to accept patients with Medicaid coverage, or
only accept a limited number.
Less than half of the children enrolled in Medicare saw a dentist in 2010 – 19.9 million children
went without care.
Why it Matters:
Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease – five times more common than asthma, yet
it is also one of the most treatable chronic conditions of childhood.
Children who do not receive dental care miss a significant number of school days, use costly
emergency room services more often and encounter worsened job prospects as adults,
compared with their peers who have access to care.
Lack of access to routine, cost effective preventative care can lead to costly trips to the
emergency, or even operating room, costing taxpayers much, much more.
Kool Smiles’ Impact:
Kool Smiles operates about 130 practices across 16 states and the District of Columbia, with a
primary focus in underserved communities.
Approximately 80-90 percent of Kool Smiles patients are Medicaid enrollees or covered by a
State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP).
In addition to accepting all forms of State- and federally-sponsored insurance plans, Kool Smiles
donates a significant amount of free care to those unable to pay – $14 million in 2011 alone.
More information about America’s Dental Divide is available by visiting:
Hidden America: Medicaid’s Youngest Face Dental Crisis
Nothing to Smile About
The Medicaid System: 15+ Million Kids Not Getting Dental Care
Health, dental care increasingly out of reach for millions
The Denver Post (from Kaiser Health News)
Many Kids on Medicaid Don’t See Dentist: Study
Vt., Md.,politicians introduce dental care bill