DENTAL ASSISTANTS PROVIDE CARE TO LOW INCOME FAMILIES
Dental Assistants take pride in providing quality care to patients. They assist Dentists with procedures and Dental Hygienists with assistance during preventative cleanings. However, many Dental Assistants understand there is a population of individuals who do not receive the dental care they should because they have no insurance and they can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket. The result of not obtaining proper dental care is ongoing health and dental issues that spiral out of control.
Many low income families are not receiving dental care. Often, dental programs are available through a variety of programs including Child Development Services, Migrant Services, and Head Start. All of these programs are conducted throughout the United States. These programs provide schooling for children and parenting skills for parents. The programs often include programs of budgeting, meal planning, family activities, and dental care. These programs are Federally funded.
In these programs, children and their families receive dental care for free. This requires qualified Dental Assistants to assist Dentists and Dental Hygienists in their work of providing procedures and dental cleanings to patients in these programs. Since their dental care is limited, it is very important for them to become educated about oral hygiene. Education becomes a key for them to work hard to maintain quality dental hygiene on their own as much as they can.
Dental Assistants often conduct training workshops for these types of programs, stressing the importance oral hygiene. The programs include information on brushing twice a day, the proper way to brush, the importance of flossing, and the proper way to floss. Family members are generally given handouts as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and pills that will show the plaque you missed on your teeth by turning the areas a bright color. These educational workshops are very helpful to the families involved in these programs.
For children and adults who have severe dental needs, this many be the only way they will ever be able to have those needs addressed. Dental Assistants who work with low income families often earn less than Dental Assistants in other dental fields of employment. However, they find a strong satisfaction in helping families obtain dental care. To them, it is more rewarding than any increase in pay.
The lack of programs to help with those who can’t afford adequate dental care is a huge concern for Dental Assistants all across the Nation. It is an issue that needs to be addressed locally, statewide, and on a Federal level. Many Dental professionals agree to assist with education and providing services to low income populations because they understand the dire need of such care.
While Medicare and Medicaid programs under Federal guidelines offer some relief for families, many don’t qualify for the programs, yet still don’t earn enough money to pay for the care on their own. In addition, most dental facilities don’t accept the Federal programs or they only accept a limited number of participants at a time.
The Surgeon General has only yet begun to conduct studies on the effects of low income families not receiving the dental care they need. However, they do agree that the issue needs to be addressed. They have implemented some strategies to improve the situation.
They would like to see the expansion of mobile dental clinics, public dental clinics, and school based dental clinics. They would also like to see schools and other educational programs focusing more on oral hygiene. Possibility adding toothbrushes and areas to each classroom for students to use after breakfast and lunch on a daily basis.
The Surgeon General is also looking into developing programs for dental staff, including Dental Assistants to receive assistance with tuition if they agree to work in low income dental facilities for a specified period of time. It is their hope that the staff will choose to remain their after that time period has ended because they see how beneficial their services are to the patients they are serving.