Dr. Pituch continued, “Many of those who will be served are from working families who do not have access to dental care or cannot afford dental insurance. Mission of Mercy dental clinic can be life-changing for patients, especially the homeless, the working poor, women in shelters, and children whose families do not have the means to see a dentist. By providing care, we help underserved patients move on to a better chapter in their lives.”
Poor dental care in children is particularly prevalent. While CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) guarantees dental coverage for millions of low-income children, not all providers will accept CHIP or Medicaid. One in five children have untreated dental cavities, making tooth decay the number one health issue among U.S. youth.
“Lack of care often drives individuals to emergency rooms when pain becomes unbearable,” said Dr. Richard Celko of UPMC Health Plan. “Because ERs are not equipped to provide traditional dental care, they can often only issue medication and referrals. The cost of a dental ER visit is three times as much as a routine dental visit and the patient leaves with no change to the condition that drove them to seek emergency care.”
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