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Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease – more common than asthma. Left untreated, dental decay can impede learning, social development and proper nutrition.  Access to dental care continues to be the number one health access issue in Ohio. It can also lead to a lifetime of poor health, as it has been associated with diabetes, stroke, heart disease and poor pregnancy outcomes. Oral cancer or cancer of the mouth can cause physical and financial devastation and even death. COVID has further demonstrated the importance of being absent of infections that can worsen the symptoms and outcomes of other diseases.

Ohioans for Dental Equity

From cavities to cancer, from womb to tomb, access to prevention and treatment care for oral diseases and infections have been repeatedly reported by the Ohio Department of Health as one of the greatest health care needs of Ohio families.


Untreated, they can lead to debilitating pain causing loss of work and school. Generally not known is that they are related to cardiovascular disease, poor pregnancy outcomes, worsen the impact of diabetes and can even lead to death. 

Minorites, children of low income families, the working poor, seniors, nursing home residents, the developmentally challenged, and people living in rural areas are most at risk. Some Ohioans live in an area facing a dental shortage. Many low-income Ohioans report getting shut out from dental care because they can not find a provider. 

For many of us our greatest oral health challenge is finding a dentist we like with convenient office hours. For some of our neighbors, who struggle with the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, it is much worse. 

The majority of the current workforce, both dentists and dental hygienists, are middle-to-upper income, suburban and white. Dental practices cater to those who are generally healthy, and have insurance or the financial resources to pay for care. Clearly, it is a social justice and racial equity issue.


The Ohio Public Health Association created Ohioans for Dental Equity to build support for policy initaitives that address these issues and will improve oral health care for all Ohioans. 


We advocate for three primary policy goals that have the ability to transform oral health in Ohio. 

Improving Medicaid reimbursement rates

Currently, more than 500,00 Ohioans rely on Medicaid for their health coverage, in addition to 1.2 million children. However, one of the greatest obstacles for these Ohioans are that no providers will take Medicaid in their area. On average, only one-third of dentists in the United States will accept patients with Medicaid and Medicare. By improving the Medicaid reimbursement rates, Ohio would provide a greater incentive to accept these patients, as well as financially support the oral health infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.


Addressing dental shortages by incorporating dental therapists to the oral health team

Today, too many Ohioans live in an area facing a dental shortage. In these communities, there are simply not enough dentists to meet the needs of the population. This situation is most prevalent in rural areas, where there are gaps in health care access across the board. Many publicly funded clinics either have no dental care or are underfunded for dental care. Those that have dental facilities often have vacant dental positions and high turnover. 


Establishing benchmarks for improved representation of the dental workforce and the communities they represent

Representation matters. When a patient is seen by a medical professional who understands them, looks like them, and shares experiences, that patient is more likely to trust that provider and their health recommendations.


Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

We are honored to have the following organizations support Ohioans for Dental Equity.

Area Office on Aging of nW Ohio


Health Partners of Western Ohio

Liberty Center of Sandusky County

Northwest Ohio Community Action Commission

One Village Council

Ohio Olmstead Task Force

Western Ohio Foodbank

Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP)  


Athens County Department of Job and Family Services

Athens County Family and Children's First Council

CAC of Belmont County

Family Health Centers of Pike County

Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action Agency

Six County, Inc.

Community Action Corporation of Washington Morgan Counties



Contact Center

Council on Rural Services - Dan Schwanitz
CEO/Interim CFO

Dominican Sisters of Hope

Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless

Highland County Community Action, Headstart/Early Start

Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center

Miami County Recovery Council, Inc.

Miami Valley Child Development Centers Inc.

Ohio Head Start Association

The Center for Closing The Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati

Over the Rhine Community Council

Over the Rhine Community Housing

People's Empowerment Coalition of Ohio

Peaslee Neighborhood Center

Power Inspires Progress

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

Recovery Hotel

Shared Harvest Foodbank

Saint Francis Seraph Ministries

Shawnee Mental Health Center, Inc

SW Ohio Consumers for Health Care

Tender Mercies, Inc.

WinMed Health Services

Health Point Family Care

Individual Endorsers

Linda Primrose Barker (Individual Endorser)

Karen K Butler (Individual Endorser)

Janet Grant (Individual Endorser)

Carolyn Martin-Geiman (Individual Endorser)

Rina Saperstein (Individual Endorser)

Columbus Federation of Settlement Houses

South Side Settlement House

Advocates for Ohio's Future

Association of Ohio Health Commissioners

Americans for Prosperity Foundation – OH


Central Community House

Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging

Clintonville Resources Center

Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio

Columbus Coalition for the Homeless

Community Action Organization of Delaware, Madison, & Union Counties

Community Organizing Center

Gladden Community House

Huckleberry House - Sonya Thesing, Executive Director

League of United Latin American Citizens


Living in Family Environments

Lower Lights Christian Health Center

Mid-Ohio Foodbank

National Association of Social Workers - Ohio Chapter

Near East Health Advisory Committee

Ohio AIDS Coalition, a Division of AIDS Resource Center of Ohio

Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies

Ohio Association of Foodbanks

Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage

Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers

Ohio Dental Hygiene Association

Ohio Public Health Association

Ohio School-Based Healthcare Association

North Side Health Advisory Committee

Southside Health Advisory Committee


Westside Community Health Advisory Committee


Asian Services in Action, Inc.

The Centers for Families and Children

Community Partners for Affordable Accessible Healthcare

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, Office of Advocacy

Merrick House

Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislative Equality

NE Ohio Consumers for Health Care

Summit County Minority Health Roundtable

Townhall II

United Clevelanders Against Povery

United Pastors in Mission

We Are the Uninsured

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