Expanding Accessibility and Affordability of Dental Care for People with Disabilities in Texas

October 22, 2021

2020-2021 Emerging Fellow Vivian Tran outlines how to ease cost and programmatic barriers that often prevent people with disabilities from receiving dental care,  in order to make affordable care a reality for thousands of people in her home state of Texas.

Quality dental care plays a critical role in the lives and health of all people, but is especially crucial for individuals with disabilities, who often have a higher number of other conditions that need to be cared for and that can be compounded by poor dental health. However, several barriers exist that make it difficult for people with disabilities to access affordable and sufficient dental care—in particular, the prohibitive costs of dental care and the lack of educational resources available to help people with disabilities find dentists.

In “Expanding Accessibility and Affordability of Dental Care for People with Disabilities in Texas,” Vivian Tran explains that to combat these barriers, Texas and Dallas health agencies should invest in increasing access to and affordability of preventive and educational services for individuals with disabilities. Specifically, she explores how agencies can achieve this through:

  1. The implementation of expanded oral screening programs catered to reach those with disabilities in and out of the educational system; and
  2. Providing additional Medicaid benefits to pay for anesthesia to prevent high out-of-pocket costs.

Through these policy interventions, Tran writes, Texas policymakers can create a health care system that better provides oral health services for individuals with disabilities and that saves public funding through the reduction of emergency room costs.