Overcoming barriers to health care access is a top priority in dentistry. It was the basis of the ADA’s Action for Dental Health, a community-based initiative to improve oral health in the United States. A 2014 report by the Health Policy Institute (HPI) found that in 2012, only about one in three working-age adults went to a dentist. A large part of the population doesn’t receive regular dental care. We know this can result in severe morbidities and, in rare cases, mortality. How do we overcome the barriers some of these patients face? The community dental health coordinator (CDHC).
I grew up in a small town in India. Participating in various health care camps in under-served neighborhoods helped me realize the importance of access to care and how it can affect people’s health. Serving rural communities for three years in dental school helped me make a difference in so many lives. I would love to do it for the rest of my life.
I grew up in a small rural village in Thailand with less than 500 people. The village was located approximately 2-3 hours from the city. Growing up, I was under the impression that dentists only pull and straighten teeth. I had no idea that they do more than just extractions and orthodontic treatments. For 13 years, I had only seen a dentist once for an extraction. The only reason I even visited the dentist was because my parents and brother had a difficult time pulling one of my teeth.