It is estimated that 100 million Americans did not go to the dentist last year, and millions more live in communities where there is little or no access to care. To help tackle this issue and bring awareness, Aspen Dental and Oral Health America have teamed up to launch the Healthy Mouth Movement, an initiative designed to deliver free dental care to thousands of people in need, and oral health education to millions more.
Throughout 2014, dentists and team members from Aspen Dental practices in 27 states will volunteer a day to providing much-needed dental care to those who need it most – free of charge, no questions asked. And to reach places where care isn’t available, the newly constructed Aspen Dental MouthMobile, a fully equipped dental office on wheels, will go directly into communities to not only provide free service, but raise awareness.
“The sad reality is that for many Americans, dentistry has become a luxury and not a priority,” said Dr. Clark Downey, Aspen Dental practice owner from Dayton, OH. “Every single day I and hundreds of other dentists at more than 400 Aspen Dental locations across the country see patients who are struggling financially and have put off regular dental care. The result is that people are living with infection and pain, and it’s impacting their health and quality of life.”
Added Dr. Downey, “Aspen Dental has always worked to remove barriers that keep people from getting dental care -- we keep fees low, stay open on evenings and weekends, and welcome emergency patients. But we want to do more, and that’s where the Healthy Mouth Movement comes in.”
According to Oral Health America’s 2013 State of Decay report, the oral health of many Americans is suffering, with more than half of the country rated as fair or poor when it comes to minimal standards affecting dental care access for older adults. And so to have the biggest impact, the Healthy Mouth Movement will make oral health education a priority.
“Dental care is the most common unmet health need in the U.S. Yet while the debate about healthcare has dominated the headlines in recent months, there has been very little discussion about oral health,” said Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America. “The Healthy Mouth Movement is a great opportunity for us to continue to not just raise awareness about these important issues, but also to connect people who need dental care with local resources.”
The Healthy Mouth Movement kicked off last month in Atlanta, Georgia, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. A total of 257 Aspen Dental volunteers helped nearly 400 patients and performed dental services valued at more than $136,000. To receive free service, patients must make advance appointments at a participating Aspen Dental location by calling 844-ASPENHMM.