Chairside Connection: Oral health accessibility and health-care disparities

June 28, 2021
What can dental professionals do to help close the gap in oral health disparities? Ann Spolarich, PhD, RDH, explains access to care issues, how the Philips chairside trial program can help, and much more.

Who are the types of people affected by oral health disparities? Who is vulnerable? Ann Spolarich, PhD, RDH, says some of the problems stem from geographics, lack of a nearby facility with the necessary equipment, transportation issues, and cost of care. Also, 50 million people live with some type of disability, whether physical or mental, that prevents them from receiving the best oral care.

Spolarich believes dental health-care professionals have become much better about reaching these populations, but much remains to be done. As a member of the Special Care Dental Association, she has heard from and networks with more of her peers who have a growing interest in reaching the underserved.

They can start by establishing a good patient-provider relationship and practicing whole-person health. Spolarich advises to go beyond immediate health needs and listen to what someone wants for their health in the future.

If you don’t believe you have the time to do this, Dr. Pamela Maragliano-Muniz reminds dental pros it really doesn’t take much additional time to get to know patients a little bit better. She said to listen to what they want and then apply that to their care. The goal is to get them to a better place in their prevention and wellness.

The two discuss the power of prevention and what it means for this demographic of patients. Part of it is making the right preventive care recommendations for those with various disabilities.

Philips has a new Chairside trial program that allows dental pros to present products to patients to try while they’re still in the chair. Putting something in patients’ hands involves personalized training and one-on-one care. Patients go home feeling more comfortable with a product and how to use it, thus leading to better preventive care measures.

See what else Dr. Pam and Spolarich discuss that will improve your patient relationships and retention.

For many more informative and up-to-the-minute video chats with key industry experts, visit DentistryIQ Videos.

About the Author

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, is the chief editor of DentistryIQ and editorial co-director of Through the Loupes. Based in Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Maragliano-Muniz began her clinical career as a dental hygienist. She went on to attend Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her doctorate in dental medicine. She then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dental Medicine, where she became board-certified in prosthodontics. Dr. Maragliano-Muniz owns a private practice, Salem Dental Arts, and lectures on a variety of clinical topics. You may contact her at [email protected].


Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, named chief editor of DentistryIQ