Dental care shortage warrants innovative strategy in Florida [Tallahassee Democrat]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Florida is in the midst of a dental access crisis. There are too few dentists to go around, especially in rural, hard-to-reach and low-income communities. As a result, oral health suffers.

Although dentists have been stepping up to provide more pro bono services, it’s still not enough. There are 24 counties in Florida with a population-to-dentist ratio greater than 3,000 to one.

And while Florida is far from the only state experiencing a shortage in dentists, we are not yet among those addressing the problem through dental therapy, an effective, safe and innovative solution proven to help increase access to care for underserved populations.


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