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Action for Dental Health Act 2014 (H.R. 4395)

The American Dental Association (ADA) urges you to cosponsor the “Action for Dental Health Act 2014 (H.R. 4395), introduced by Representative Robin Kelly (IL-2nd). 

What this Bill Funds

This bill funds two federal grant programs. The first would provide $10 million annually to qualified state and local organizations offering free dental services for underserved populations. The second program would provide $10 million annually to organizations implementing Action for Dental Health initiatives that reduce the barriers to care. Both grants are limited to five fiscal years after enactment.

The first grant would help fund programs where dentists can directly provide care to those who are suffering from lack of dental care today. Programs like Give Kids A Smile® and Missions of Mercy provide important platforms for dentists to deliver care directly to those in need.

  • Each year, approximately 450,000 children benefit from 1,500 Give Kids A Smile events nationwide. Missions of Mercy events across America have served more than 100,000 patients, providing nearly $50 million in free services since 2000. 
  • These programs, along with the free and discounted care that individual dentists provide every day, add up to an estimated $2.6 billion per year.

The second grant would fund “Action for Dental Health” initiatives designed to deliver care now to people already suffering with dental disease, strengthen and expand the public/private safety net, and bring dental health education and disease prevention into underserved communities. 

  • Reduce the number of people who visit the emergency room for a dental condition by referring them to community health centers or private dental practices, where they can receive proper dental care.1
  • Expand access to care for the vulnerable elderly in nursing homes.2  
  • Help provide more care to people by having private-practice dentists contract with Federally Qualified Health Centers. This strategy will help alleviate health center dental backlogs, and get patients speedier oral health care.  It can also increase access to dental specialty services.
  • Fight for increased funding and simplified administration under Medicaid.3
  • Ensure more Americans have access to fluoridated drinking water.4 
  • Increase the number of Community Dental Health Coordinators.5 
  • Strengthen collaborations with other health professionals and organizations.6

Why is this legislation necessary?

  • H.R. 4395 supports expansion of ongoing programs that make it feasible for many more private sector dentists to care for the underserved. Over one-third of the U.S. population is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and yet only about 3 percent of dentists practice in Federally Qualified Health Centers. Private sector dentists comprise over 90 percent of the profession.
  • H.R. 4395 supports proven, cost-effective measures: 
    • Emergency department (ED) visits for dental problems cost nearly $3 billion during the period from 2008 through 2010, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dental Association (April 2014, Vol. 145:4, pp. 331-337). The study noted that dental ED care costs more than regular care by oral health professionals. Also, most ED visits only provide patients with pain medication and don't treat the underlying problem.
    • Fluoride in drinking water yields $38 in savings for $1 invested; CDHCs provide prevention and outreach; nursing home residents unable to travel receive care where they live; FQHCs are offered a less costly alternative to more “bricks and mortar.” 

The American Dental Association urges you to cosponsor the “Action for Dental Health Act 2014” (H.R. 4395).

Letters from Congress

Download a letter about the Action for Dental Health Act of 2014 from congresswoman Robin Kelly. 

Contact Information

Jennifer Fisher, Congressional Lobbyist
American Dental Association; fisherj@ada.org; 202.789.5160

  • Footnotes

Engage allows ADA members to contact their legislators and stay informed on critical public policy issues that affect dentistry.