Poor dental hygiene can affect the entire body, which is why it’s vital that people receive regular dental exams to evaluate the overall health of their teeth and gums. Unfortunately, close to 74 million Americans had no dental coverage in 2016. Those without dental insurance are 67 percent more likely to have heart disease; 50 percent more likely to have osteoporosis; and 29 percent more likely to have diabetes.
More than 2 million visits to hospital emergency rooms each year are for dental infections, gum disease and sinus cavities that could have been prevented with early intervention. Covenant Health’s emergency department in the Providence St. Joseph Health Texas region often sees low income patients seeking relief for a terrible toothache. Fortunately, many of these patients are now referred to Covenant’s Dental Clinic, where they can receive low-cost dental treatment.
The dental outreach includes both a fixed site dental clinic in Lubbock, Texas, and a mobile Dental Clinic – an RV with two dental exam areas – serving both Lubbock County and a 60-mile area radius that includes Hockley and Hale counties. Both the mobile and fixed site clinic offer full service dentistry, including cleanings, sealants, extractions, fillings, caps, crowns, root canals and more. There is also a denture and partial program available.
A patient was recently referred to Covenant’s Dental Clinic; she had two broken teeth and was in constant pain. She had not had dental insurance for many years and could not afford the cost of dental work. She was able to receive treatment through the clinic. “I am so thankful for your help so that I will no longer be in pain,” she said.
Covenant Health began the Dental Clinic as a direct response to its community health needs assessment, which identified access to health services as one of the greatest unmet needs in the region.
Through a total community benefit investment of nearly $1.5 million, Covenant Health’s dental outreach services were able to assist local families through more than 2,600 dental encounters where low-income patients received full dental treatment at low to no cost. The dental sealant program provided free sealants and education to 158 vulnerable students in surrounding schools.