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Medical-Dental Integration Improves Access to Care

The number of medical professionals, particularly pediatricians, who are taking on dental duties to provide oral healthcare to low-income and uninsured patients, continues to grow, according to KFF Health News. Driven by the significant oral health needs within underserved communities, programs across the United States are integrating oral health into medical checkups for children and pregnant women. This integration involves assessing oral health; providing preventive care, such as fluoride varnish and sealant application; and making referrals to dentists when necessary. Despite the progress made with federal and private funding, challenges, such as socioeconomic barriers, workforce shortages, and the needs of new immigrants, persist. Strategies to overcome these challenges include training primary care providers in oral health, embedding dental hygienists within medical practices, and offering sliding pay scales for uninsured patients. States like Colorado and Montana have adopted policies to increase access to preventive oral healthcare for children, particularly during well-child visits. Click here to read more.

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