The dental health issues and problems addressed in this report by the NCIOM Task Force on Dental Care Access are multifaceted and complex, requiring multiple strategies and actions by both the public and private sectors.
Increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates is a necessary, but not sufficient, response to the problem of inadequate access to dental services. North Carolina needs to simultaneously increase the supply of dentists and dental hygienists; build capacity among safety-net providers to address the dental care needs of low-income, Medicaid-eligible and special needs populations; and educate these groups about the importance of ongoing comprehensive dental care. In addition, more emphasis must be placed on dental education and prevention strategies to prevent costly and painful dental disease, especially among children.
The 23 recommendations in this report, if acted upon, would go a great distance toward the goal of assuring adequate preventive and curative dental health care for those groups within our state’s population who presently suffer the consequences of inadequate access to dental care.