CHICAGO, Illinois--The Chicago Dental Society Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to access to dental care and dental education, has released a new online tool to help metro Chicago residents find dental clinics in their area.
The tool, located at www.cdsfound.org/clinics, includes data about dental clinics and services in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties.
"Our goal with this project is to help patients in need find dental clinics relevant to them," Dr. Jamie Robinson, dentist and Chicago Dental Society Foundation board member, said.
"We're realistic. The dental care safety net is threadbare, but we can still help people navigate the system and find clinics where they are eligible for treatment."
During the past five years, the city of Chicago has closed all its dental clinics. According to a report conducted by the Chicago Dental Society in 2011, there is one clinic for every 11,400 Medicaid enrollees in Chicago.
Dental care has not fared better at the county level, either. In 2000, the Cook County Department of Public Health served nearly 12,000 dental patients. In 2007, the county closed half of its dental clinics, resulting in fewer than 5,000 patients being seen in 2009.
The tool is a comprehensive collection of information on the dental care safety net in the metro Chicago area. Users can search by geography and ages of patients treated, as well as get information on services provided, languages spoken, and payment methods accepted for more than 100 clinics and services.
The foundation collaborated with the Chicago Community Oral Health Forum, an advocacy group, to gather and verify data.
"There is an urgent need for this information," Rodney Watt, CDS Foundation executive director, said. "With the elimination of dental services under Medicaid this July, there are more patients than ever relying on the dental care safety net."