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CDA Cares helps restore adult dental benefits

September 02, 2013

By Kelly Soderlund, ADA News staff

Caring for patients: California dentists volunteer their time and skills at the California Dental Association Foundation's CDA Cares clinic in Sacramento, Calif., in 2012.
Sacramento, Calif.—
The hard work to create the California Dental Association Foundation's CDA Cares clinics has culminated in legislation that benefits millions of Californians.

Thanks to the success of the program, which provides free dental care to low-income adults and children, the California Legislature and governor approved a state budget that reinstates funding for Adult Denti-Cal benefits.

Lawmakers cited CDA Cares as the primary example of the tremendous need to provide adults with dental benefits.

“We invited local and state officials to tour our CDA Cares clinics to educate them about the importance of good oral health care and demonstrate the tremendous need for services for low-income adults,” said CDA President Lindsey Robinson.

“I know the experience was eye-opening, and we appreciate the efforts of lawmakers who made the restoration of Adult Denti-Cal services a priority after visiting our clinics.”

The state legislature budgeted $77 million annually for the program, which covers preventive care, restoration and full dentures. It's slated to be restored in May.

“I will never forget the sea of people—the endless lines of low-income Californians—some of whom had waited overnight,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

“It wasn't just to get their teeth cleaned or fill a cavity but for surgery to deal with abscessed teeth, root canals and replacement of missing teeth. I saw people who had lost all their teeth because they can't get preventive dental care.”

Nearly all of the services associated with Adult Denti-Cal were eliminated in 2009. Three million Californians were left without dental coverage, sending many to the emergency room with their dental problems.

Since 2012, three CDA Cares clinics have provided free oral health care services to 5,878 patients, some of whom waited in line for days to receive treatment.