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New Law Seeks to Improve Access to Oral Health Care for Underserved Patients

December 12, 2018

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CHICAGO — The American Dental Association (ADA) commends Congress for passing the Action for Dental Health Act. For years, dentists have worked to improve access to oral health care for underserved Americans and have championed this patient-benefiting legislation.

The ADA has advocated for this legislation since 2014. The Action for Dental Health Act supports nationwide efforts to improve the dental health of underserved populations and will promote programs that deliver care more easily to those without it, while bringing education and disease prevention to communities in need.

“This is a tremendous victory for dentistry and patients everywhere,” said Jeffrey M. Cole, D.D.S., ADA president. “The Action for Dental Health initiative shows that our profession believes all Americans deserve good dental health. The ADA is pleased to see Congress prioritizing legislation that will improve access to oral health care.” 

This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), D.M.D., will help improve essential oral and dental health services to these underserved communities. The Action for Dental Health Act targets federal funding to provide dental care to vulnerable populations, especially children, seniors and those living in rural, urban and Native American communities.

The legislation originally passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February with 90 percent of members voting in favor. A slightly amended version was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and passed in October 2018. The bill was reconciled in time for passage before the 115th session of Congress ends later this month. The ADA commends and thanks the co-sponsors of this bill who helped recognize the need to make oral health care a priority. President Trump signed the Action for Dental Health Act into law on Dec. 11.

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About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website