When people don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford care, most simply go without. They suffer chronic pain, struggle to swallow or speak, and risk infections and tooth loss. For some, the pain is so severe it interferes with their ability to work, to live a normal life, to smile. Fortunately, a comprehensive dental benefit is available to all adults and children enrolled in Medicaid (effective July 1, 2021).

While there are some safety net dentists caring for uninsured and underserved communities, most are overwhelmed with patients. Far too many Virginia communities have no dental safety net at all. In some rural areas, there is just one dentist for every 5,000+ individuals. While there are 100 dental safety net sites in Virginia, many only offer care on a part-time basis. Click here for an interactive map of dental safety net clinics in Virginia.

While the need for dental care for adults is particularly acute, children also face obstacles obtaining care. Medicaid/FAMIS health insurance cover dental care, though Virginia suffers from a significant shortage of pediatric dentists.

VHCF is committed to bringing dental care to those most in need and is working on many levels to help Virginians receive the dental care they need:

Grants: VHCF dental grants totaling more than $17.2 million have helped establish or expand 55 dental safety net sites statewide. Grants provide funding for dental equipment to helping underwrite the salaries of dentists and hygienists.

Best Practices: VHCF’s Tooth Talk Roundtable and Listserv give dental providers an opportunity to share best practices and brainstorm about effective ways to grow and strengthen the dental safety net in Virginia. Please click the button below to sign-up for the Tooth Talk Listserv or to find out more about Tooth Talk Roundtables, please contact Andrea Lancaster, Chief Program and Impact Officer, at (804) 587-0512.

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Discounts: VHCF partners with Patterson Dental to enable providers serving uninsured Virginians to receive a substantial discount on dental equipment and supplies, maintenance and repair and dental practice management software. This partnership has brought over $2.7 million in savings to Virginia’s dental safety net.

Resources: VHCF offers a wealth of resources for dental safety net providers — from how to start-up a dental clinic to how to handle no-shows.

Policy: VHCF works in partnership with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the Virginia Dental Association , the Virginia Health Catalyst, and other key stakeholders to contribute to policy changes that improve access to dental care for Virginians, including the adult dental Medicaid benefit.

Last Updated on June 20, 2024

Changing Lives

“The day the dental clinic opened was a lifesaver for me.”

I have diverticulitis. Among other things, that means I have to avoid all processed foods and stick to a diet of limited fresh foods. All of them require the ability to chew. My dad was a dentist so I have always been diligent about flossing and brushing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. I developed a cyst […]

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