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UCLA Report Identifies Barriers to Access to Dental Care

A UCLA policy brief has identified a shortage of dentists, a small percentage of dentists providing care for low-income patients who use Medi-Cal, and a lack of representation in Latino and Black dentists as three of the lead factors that have led to disparities in low-income Californian’s access to dental care. 

A UCLA policy brief has identified a shortage of dentists, a small percentage of dentists providing care for low-income patients who use Medi-Cal, and a lack of representation in Latino and Black dentists as three of the lead factors that have led to disparities in low-income Californian’s access to dental care.

UCLA Center for Health Policy Research investigators analyzed data from the Dental Board of California, California Dental Association and California Health and Human Services and found only 6% of practicing dentists were Latino and 2% were Black. Fifty-three percent of the state’s low-income adults were Latino and 7% were Black. Additionally, about 79% of California’s dentists did not provide care for patients who use Medi-Cal.

Expanding the roles of dental hygienists and dental therapists, the use of mobile clinics, and offering appointments through teledentistry are suggestions presented in the paper. The policy brief, “The Challenge of Meeting the Dental Care Needs of Low-Income California Adults With the Current Dental Workforce,” is available online.

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