HHS announces funding aimed at improving oral health
HHS has awarded $156 million to "increase access to integrated oral health care services and improve oral health outcomes," Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced in a press release.
The funding, from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will go to 420 health centers in 47 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico for patients who participate in the Health Center Program. The health centers will be able to hire about 1,600 technicians, aides, assistants, dental hygienists and dentists who will be able to treat approximately 785,000 additional patients.
“Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,” Burwell said. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”
HHS noted that nearly 1,400 health centers employed more than 7,400 dental assistants, 1,600 dental hygienists and 3,700 dentists that served almost 4.7 million patients in 2014.
In the release, the agency highlighted the link between oral health and various illnesses, and the critical need for access to preventive and routine dental care.
“HRSA will continue to explore ways to further integrate oral health services within primary care settings, and increase awareness of the connection between oral health and overall health,” Jim Macrae, HRSA Acting Administrator, said in the release.