Since 2002, Care Alliance has provided comprehensive and affordable oral health services, including dental cleanings, extractions, x-rays, oral cancer screenings, partials, and dentures, oral surgery. Oral health is the number one unmet need for uninsured Ohioans, and so it is no surprise that Care Alliance’s dental clinic has more demand than it can meet. The department currently has a wait time of five to six weeks for established patients, and accepts new patients only on the first of every month.
Meeting the oral health needs of individuals who are experiencing homelessness is uniquely challenging, as their lifestyles are not as conducive to good oral hygiene as someone with a stable residence. Our dental patients’ needs are acute; 900f our dental patients are diagnosed with gum disease, and more than 400f services performed are for dentures/partials.
One of the most important components of our dental services is the Restoring Smiles program, which provides low-cost restorative care to patients with significant oral health challenges. When our patients come to the first dental appointment, many have severe oral health needs, often requiring extensive extractions. While extractions are extremely important to improving health, they leave patients unable to eat solid foods, feelings of self-consciousness or shame and a higher likelihood of being passed over for work or housing opportunities. Care Alliance recognizes the impact that dentures can have on our patients’ lives: increasing self-esteem, improving ability to eat and reducing aesthetic barriers to employment and housing. It is for this reason that Care Alliance believes in providing affordable dentures for our patients.