Many dental professionals are unwilling to accommodate adults with developmental disabilities and the consequences are extending far beyond the mouth.
In what experts are calling a national crisis, few dentists are treating individuals with special needs, especially once they reach adulthood.
At the heart of the problem: money and knowledge. Medicaid offers notoriously low reimbursement rates for dentists, so few accept the government health insurance program. And in some states, Medicaid doesn’t cover oral care at all.
Meanwhile, some dentists are simply uncomfortable meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities since they often don’t receive training on how to serve this population while in dental school.
And the consequences can be far reaching. Without dental care, something as simple as a toothache can lead to a meltdown for those with disabilities, experts say.
Some nonprofit groups — including Special Olympics — are working to meet the need by offering free dental care, but they say their efforts are not enough. They’re urging the federal government to take action by identifying those with disabilities as a medically underserved group, reports ABC News.
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