Report at a Glance
Millions of Americans are not receiving needed dental care services because of "persistent and systemic" barriers that limit their access to oral health care, says a new report by the IOM and National Research Council. To remove these barriers -- which disproportionately affect children, seniors, minorities, and other vulnerable populations -- the report recommends changing funding and reimbursement for dental care; expanding the oral health work force by training doctors, nurses, and other nondental professionals to recognize risk for oral diseases; and revamping regulatory, educational, and administrative practices.
"The consequences of insufficient access to oral health care and resultant poor oral health -- at both the individual and population levels -- are far-reaching," said Frederick Rivara, Seattle Children's Guild Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "As the nation struggles to address the larger systemic issues of access to health care, we need to ensure that oral health is recognized as a basic component of overall health."