While dental care in America is the best in the world, too many Americans have trouble accessing that care. Despite recent improvements, oral health disparities remain, particularly among ethnic minorities, lower-income families, people living in remote rural areas and Native American communities and the elderly in nursing homes.

That’s why the ADA launched Action for Dental Health (ADH), a nationwide community based movement to provide care now to people who are suffering from untreated disease, strengthen the dental safety net, and bring dental health education and disease prevention into underserved communities.

Making an impact

Dental disease is almost completely preventable. Families need to be educated and we are doing just that through the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition of more than 35 dental health organizations, and the Ad Council. Since its launch in 2012, nearly 2 million people have visited 2min2x.org, the Partnership’s ad campaign. A 2013 Ad Council survey showed that in one year, parents reported that their children were significantly more likely to brush twice a day and significantly more likely to brush for two minutes each time.

"Healthy teeth and gums aren’t a luxury—they’re essential to a person’s well-being. Dentists are taking the lead but we can’t do this alone."

ADH is helping move people from ERs to the dental chair. It is delivering care to the elderly in nursing homes, and expanding the dental capacity of clinics and health centers. Community Dental Health Coordinators are providing education to people in underserved areas and helping them get care from dentists.

Calling for support

Congress can help us in this campaign by passing the Action for Dental Health bill (H.R. 539), introduced by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and cosponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). This legislation would authorize the government to use existing funds to help state and local organizations implement ADH initiatives that reduce the barriers to care.

Healthy teeth and gums aren’t a luxury—they’re essential to a person’s well-being. Dentists are taking the lead but we can’t do this alone. We need the support and collaboration of federal, state and local governments, the private sector and everyone with a stake in a healthier nation to ensure that good dental health is within the reach of all Americans.

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