Wide Disparities Exist in Oral Health
Like many chronic conditions, the largest burden of disease occurs among marginalized groups such as those living in poverty; members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities; frail elders; immigrant populations; those with special health care needs; and others.Top contributing factors to unmet oral health needs include:
Cost: High out-of-pocket costs for dental care is a top reason why Floridians avoid going to the dentist – even if they have dental insurance. Low-income families spend 10 times of their total income on dental care than that of wealthier families. Without dental coverage or the ability to afford care, many adults delay treatment as long as they can. This means they need more expensive and extensive oral care than they would if they had seen a dentist earlier in the disease process.
Provider Availability: With 66 of Florida’s 67 counties having Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, millions of Floridians have trouble finding a dentist in their local communities. Long waiting times to be seen or having to travel long distances to be seen are common. 41% of Medicaid adults report that they did not visit a dentist within the last 12 months. Floridians with Medicaid have exceptional access difficulties since only 18% of Florida dentists accept Medicaid.
Coverage: Nearly one in five (19.5%) of Florida adults ages 19 – 64 are uninsured. Florida is one of 10 states nationwide that severely limits dental coverage for adult Medicaid recipients to emergencies only.