Proper dental services and good oral health are areas where wide disparities in the U.S. persist. The cost of quality dental care is a major barrier, per research from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Additionally, only 39% of U.S. dentists are dentists that take Medicaid and/or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (as of September 2019). This reality makes the search for a dentist in underserved populations more difficult.
The Penn Dental Medicine (PDM) Division of Community Oral Health provides convenient, comprehensive dental care to patient populations who need it most and most often can’t afford it. We accept Medicaid and direct payments from most dental insurance plans, as well as offer affordable payment plans.
PDM also brings multifaceted, much-needed dental health care to communities who need it. To assist in this mission, we partner with other organizations and nonprofits. Two of our longest, most productive partnerships are with Puentes de Salud and Spectrum Health.
Our work with these organizations brings affordable, quality dental care to low-income families and other underserved populations.
Both Puentes de Salud and Spectrum Health epitomize Penn’s community outreach. “Meeting our patients where they are, in the communities where they live, work, and attend school, is what our mission is all about,” says PDM Dean Mark Wolff.
Puentes de Salud serves the Latin American immigrant community. There are a wide range of obstacles to this population’s improved oral health, including:
The Puentes de Salud Dental Center offers chairside translation via an innovative portable system that can translate nearly any language. This works in tandem with PDM’s welcoming environment, and the physician-led guidance of highly trained, compassionate third- and fourth-year dental students.
PDM provided three new, much-needed dental chairs to the Dental Center. At the Center, Penn Dental faculty and students provide oral health education, and diagnostic, preventive, restorative and surgical dental care.
Like with Puentes de Salud, PDM worked with Spectrum Health to meet patients where they’re at. This meant bringing eight dental chairs to its 5201 Haverford Avenue location.
Spectrum Health integrates PDM’s patient-centered, specialty care into its mission to offer all people the best oral health opportunities. “Regardless of age, race, religion, and/or ability to pay,” its website states, “ALL should have access to expert dental care.” Spectrum Health dentists are dentists that take Medicaid, and also work on a sliding fee discount program based on patients’ family size and income
Both Spectrum Health and Puentes de Salud ensure patients are able to receive adult, pediatric, and general dentistry options.
Underserved patients benefit from PDM’s local outreach, both from the dental school’s own work, and from our partnerships with organizations like Puentes de Salud and Spectrum Health. Our deep collaboration with the community, and our status as a teaching practice means the benefits also flow both ways.
PDM students gain invaluable experience providing dental services to these patients. In addition to sharing their growing knowledge and skills, these predoctoral students have dynamic opportunities not all dental students receive. As a result, PDM graduates will better serve diverse communities in future dental practice.
In addition to giving patients who need quality dental services expanded and easier access to them, PDM, Puentes de Salud, and Spectrum Health make dental health care more affordable. All three practices are dentists that take Medicaid of Philadelphia, and make cost-effective payment options for dental care available.
For more information about how to find a dentist who offers affordable dental care, we recommend visiting our Division of Community Oral Health web page. You’ll discover our many other community-based partnerships with dentists that take Medicaid, and details about our budget-friendly payment plans.
Do you want to know more about the comprehensive dental care we offer? Download our free eBook, Comprehensive Care and You: Penn Dental Medicine’s Dental Services. This short resource will introduce the types of dentistry PDM offers, and help you determine how they can bring you better oral health.
And if you’re ready to schedule your appointment, you may do so online now, or call us at 215-898-8965.