Content Dam Diq En Articles Apex360 2018 03 Update On The Action For Dental Health Act And Why It Should Get The Senates Vote Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File
Content Dam Diq En Articles Apex360 2018 03 Update On The Action For Dental Health Act And Why It Should Get The Senates Vote Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File
Content Dam Diq En Articles Apex360 2018 03 Update On The Action For Dental Health Act And Why It Should Get The Senates Vote Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File
Content Dam Diq En Articles Apex360 2018 03 Update On The Action For Dental Health Act And Why It Should Get The Senates Vote Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File
Content Dam Diq En Articles Apex360 2018 03 Update On The Action For Dental Health Act And Why It Should Get The Senates Vote Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Update on Action for Dental Health Act—and why it should get the Senate's vote

March 13, 2018
In late February, the House of Representatives passed the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 (HR 2422) with bipartisan support. The bill now looks to pass in the Senate. Jonathan Ford, DMD, provides a summary of the act and its potential impact on preventative dental care.

Benjamin Franklin once famously stated, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the late evening hours of February 26, the House of Representatives heeded those famous words and—with bipartisan support—passed the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 (HR 2422). The act has been endorsed by the American Dental Association and National Dental Association in hopes of decreasing dental expenditures by preventing them at their infancy.

As its core, the act aims to improve oral health for underserved populations, with a focus on children, seniors, and individuals in rural or urban communities. It would reauthorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the Health Resources and Services Administration to issue grants and funds totaling $32 million each year for the next five years. Grants would be for oral health education, dental disease prevention, and increased access to care. The act creates guidelines for who would be eligible to receive funds. They include academic institutions, local dental societies, state dental associations, as well as state and local health and/or dental departments.

The data show that 181 million people didn’t visit the dentist last year and 50% of those people over 30 have an undiagnosed dental condition. 25% of children under five years old have a cavity. It is also a fact the emergency room visits for dental conditions cost more and are essentially useless in treating the condition compared to a visit with a dentist. The act also points out that dentists are extremely altruistic in nature and donate close to $2.6 billion in services annually. The act has specific language in it that acknowledges dental professionals' good will and attempts to leverage the donated dental services with grant money, ultimately creating a more profound impact on targeted communities.

As someone who has worked closely with a large, free dental clinic, I know the bare-bones costs are close to $500,000 to treat 2000-plus patients over two days. HR 2422 will focus on getting money to efforts like these, with its ultimate goal to improve oral health in underserved populations across the United States.

In the grand scheme of things, $32 million dollars a year is literally nothing in the federal government's budget. With an estimated budget of $3.76 trillion dollars, this bill would compromise 0.000851% of that budget. As a dentist, I hope this bill passes and many more like it pass so the oral health care in underserved communities improves drastically. Additionally, there should be additional funding so oral health care is viewed and treated as an essential component for good overall health.

The next hurdle for the bill is a vote in the Senate and then onto the president’s desk for his signature, making it law.

Jonathan Ford, DMD, is a general dentist at Ford Dental Group in Huntington Beach, California. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 2007. He served on the board of directors for The Dentist Service Company in 2015. He currently serves on a council for the California Dental Association and is a board member of the Orange County Dental Society. You can reach him by email at [email protected]. Visit his website at FordDentalGroup.com.

Also by Jonathan Ford

Nextdoor: An overview for dentists and dental practices

How I compete with that DSO-supported office down the street

The CDA launches a new collective buying group via the Dentists Service Company

Editor's note: This article was first published in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.

Dental news and press releases may be sent to Apex360 editors at [email protected].

For the most current dental headlines, visit the DentistryIQ homepage.