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Better Together: Co-Location of Dental and Primary Care Provides Opportunities to Improve Oral Health

September 30, 2015

Policy Brief

Authors: Nadereh Pourat, PhD, Ana E. Martinez, MPH, James J. Crall, DDS, ScD

Community Health Centers (CHCs) are one of the principal safety-net providers of health care for low-income and uninsured populations. Co-locating dental services in primary care settings provides an opportunity to improve access to dental care. Yet this study of California CHCs that provide primary care services shows that only about one-third of them co-located primary and dental care services on-site. An additional one-third were members of multisite organizations in which at least one other site provided dental care. The remaining one-third of CHC sites had no dental care capacity. Policy options to promote co-location include requiring on-site availability of dental services, providing infrastructure funding to build and equip dental facilities, and offering financial incentives to provide dental care and recruit dental providers.

This study was developed with support from First 5 Los Angeles.

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