Geriatric health is an underexplored area of dentistry, yet the United Nations predicts by 2050 one in six people will be older than 65. According to the May 2012 issue of Gerodontology Society’s journal, there is an increase in geriatric patients and more senior patients are retaining their teeth than in the past.
Veterans are a special population that has unique dental care needs that are not being met. Although veterans receive free medical care for life from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), lifetime dental care is only given to those who are 100% disabled by their service, former prisoners of war or have a dental disability caused in service.
According to 2016 data from the World Prison Brief, released by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, the United States has the highest national rate of imprisonment: 655 jailed persons per 100,000 of the national population. Canada and Mexico have rates of 114 and 164, respectively. The United States houses over 2 million inmates in 4,455 facilities that may fall under local, state or federal jurisdiction. Inmates are a huge sector of the American population. They’re a group that may not come to mind when thinking about our country’s most vulnerable populations, yet they face significant barriers to accessing adequate health care.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, homeless veterans list dental care among their top three unmet needs, along with housing and child care. Many veterans do receive dental benefits through their VA. Yet in order to qualify, the veteran must be either 100 percent disabled, have been a prisoner of war or have developed a dental condition during their service. This leaves many veterans without dental benefits and thus no dental home.
The Council on Professional Issues is excited to announce the start of the National Outreach Initiative. Outreach is a crucial component to many chapters within ASDA. Because of its importance, the Council on Professional Issues would like to bring attention towards community service. Outreach promotion has become a goal for ASDA and we will be promoting awareness for underserved populations. Promotion will occur through publications, blog posts and chapter spotlights. The goal is to educate students on these at-risk communities. The National Outreach Initiative will also include Service Week, featuring social media takeovers displaying successful outreach events.