Community Health Centers

Community dental clinics providing care to the underserved

Our aim is to reduce health disparities in Washington. One way we accomplish this is by supporting community dental clinics that provide care to underserved communities.


Too many lower-income people are not able to receive dental care

Lower-income and uninsured individuals and families often struggle to access dental care. Too often they must live with painful oral disease, which affects their overall health, quality of life, and employment opportunities.  It’s hard to get a job if you are in pain or missing teeth.  For some the pain is so intense they seek expensive emergency room care. But, emergency rooms can’t treat underlying dental problems. They can only offer pain medicines and antibiotics, which contribute to the opioid epidemic and antibiotics overuse.

There are not enough nearby providers to treat the more than one million adults in Washington with dental coverage through Apple Health (Medicaid). In 2016, only 22 percent of Medicaid-insured adults saw a dentist.

Poor oral health affects a child’s ability to learn and succeed in life 

Children also suffer from preventable oral disease.  Children with painful cavities have difficulty eating, sleeping and learning. Cavities in baby teeth can lead to cavities in adult teeth and cause lifelong health problems.  Recent data shows widespread health disparities among children.  Children of color and those from lower-income households have much higher rates of decay and are less likely to receive care.

When oral disease is not prevented and people can’t get treatment, the results are higher healthcare costs and poor overall health.

To reduce disparities we support community dental clinics and programs to provide care for those with nowhere else to turn.  

Here’s some of what we’re doing:

  • Invested in community health centers and nonprofit clinics adding 300,000 additional patient visits each year since 2010.
  • Through our partnership with the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, helping dental clinics learn about and share effective approaches to improve dental care for the state’s most vulnerable patients.
  • Delivering high-quality dental care to more than 40,000 lower-income children and pregnant women in underserved communities (about 2,000 per year).  For 20 years, our SmileMobile dental van has traveled thousands of miles visiting rural and underserved areas across Washington.
  • Providing management assistance and support to ABCD, a nationally recognized program to provide care to lower-income young children insured through Apple Health.
For more information on our work with community dental clinics contact Chad Lennox . 
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