ATLANTA, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over the past decade dental visits for children have increased in Georgia, but dental care among adults in the state is steadily declining, says a new report. During Children's Dental Health Month in February, the Georgia Dental Association reminds parents about the importance of oral health for both children and adults alike.
According to the report released by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute, the percentage of children in Georgia who saw a dentist at least once a year increased for both children with Medicaid coverage and private dental benefits between 2000 to 2013. Dental visits among children in Georgia with Medicaid saw the largest jump from 24 percent to 53 percent. Among children in Georgia with private dental benefits coverage, dental visits increased from 58 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2013. Conversely, dental visits among adults with private dental insurance declined in Georgia from 58 percent in 2005 to 55 percent in 2013.
There are many reasons people do not seek dental care, but lack of dentists in the state is not one of them says the Georgia Dental Association. Barriers may include cost, lack of transportation, work commitments and fear of the dentist. A study conducted by the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University also found a dentist office is within a 30-minute drive for most Georgians in rural counties.
"Some new dental office locations may promote that they are increasing access to dental care in the state by opening offices in dental health professional shortage areas, but the information is misleading," says Georgia Dental Association Executive Director Frank Capaldo. "Oftentimes, these offices are not located in the more rural areas. In addition, many of these organizations do not accept Medicaid patients, further limiting availability to underserved populations. To truly address barriers to dental care, the Georgia Dental Association is working on comprehensive solutions."
The Georgia Dental Association has been leading the way with diverse, creative solutions to provide care for those in need. The Association's efforts include successfully advocating for a student loan repayment program in the state budget for dentists who open practices in underserved rural areas and participate in Medicaid. The association also is working to create public-private partnerships to serve low-income and uninsured Georgians, while also providing dentists with opportunities to volunteer their services to those in need. Last summer, through the Georgia Dental Association and its foundation, the Georgia Mission of Mercy project provided approximately $1.5 million of donated care to approximately 2,000 Georgians. The Georgia Dental Association also will host Give Kids a Smile Day on Friday, February 5, in conjunction with Children's Dental Health Month. On this day, dentist volunteers in Georgia will provide an estimated $100,000 of donated dental care and services to underserved children in the state.
"We must continue to educate Georgians on the greater cost of dental neglect, which can be far more than the direct financial cost of decaying teeth. We must also address barriers to dental care for patients and make improvements to ensure we meet all Georgians' oral health needs," says Capaldo.
"Establishing a dental home and seeing your dentist twice a year, along with brushing twice a day, could help prevent many of the problems faced by people with poor dental care," says President of the Georgia Dental Association, Dr. Tom Broderick. "Don't wait until you are in pain to see your dentist."
The Georgia Dental Association offers a zip code search to find a dentist in your community Visit www.gadental.org to find your dental home.
About the Georgia Dental Association
The Georgia Dental Association (GDA) is the state's largest dental association, representing 3,300 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information in Georgia, the GDA has promoted the highest standards of dentistry through education, advocacy and professionalism since 1859. A constituent of the American Dental Association, the GDA is based in Atlanta.
Contact: Carol Galbreath
SOURCE Georgia Dental Association