Good dental care shouldn’t depend on zip codes
Working on the oral healthcare gap in rural central PA
Finding convenient, affordable dental care is a major problem for many northeastern PA families.
When you’re struggling to make ends meet, can’t find a dentist who accepts state-funded health insurance or care is just too far away, oral health often takes a back seat. In fact, as many as 26,000 people in our region are unable to afford recommended oral healthcare.
And there’s a shortage of available dental providers and specialists in our community. Many residents have to drive up to two hours just to see a dentist.
Dentists are the only group of health care providers experiencing an absolute decline in workforce levels in Pennsylvania since 1995.
-- Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Dental Service Supply and Demand for the Indigent Populations in Rural Pennsylvania, 2004
Geisinger is there
Studying dental care access. Offering solutions.
While the problem can’t be solved overnight, we’re working with local healthcare groups, independent dental care providers and elected officials to help children and adults get the dental care they need by:
- Accepting PA Medical Assistance programs that other providers refuse.
- Offering our Community Calendar health fairs and public screenings to provide information on available oral health resources in the community.
- Working with public transportation officials to expand routes to oral healthcare centers.
- Exploring the creation of mobile dental centers at schools, nursing homes and community centers .
- Recruiting young dental professionals to live and work in our region.
Giving kids reasons to smile
According to a 2012 government report, a child’s untreated dental problems can result in missed school days, poor nutrition and bad overall health later in life. That’s why we’re focused on helping kids get quality oral healthcare in rural central Pennsylvania with:
- “Every Smile Counts,” to educate soon-to-be and new parents about the importance of their child’s dental health, and follow up to ensure infants and children are getting the dental care they need.
- Expanded staff with three full-time (3) pediatric dentists and an orthodontist.