An estimated 750,000 more Virginians will have access to dental providers and services thanks to a new adult Medicaid benefit beginning July 1.
Lawmakers approved the funding in last year’s General Assembly.
The Virginia Dental Association is encouraging Medicaid members to learn more about coverage and find dentists at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services’ website. Resources are available in English and Spanish.
“The new adult Medicaid benefit is an important step for connecting underserved Virginians with critical preventative, restorative and surgical dental care,” said Dr. Frank Iuorno Jr., president of the Virginia Dental Association. “Expanding access to oral healthcare is important for all Virginians. No person should have to go weeks or months in pain waiting for treatment.
We’ve been working to educate our member dentists about how to participate and look forward to providing quality care to new patients this year.”
Virginia currently offers a comprehensive dental coverage benefit to children under 20 and pregnant women.
The new coverage includes preventative and diagnostic treatment, such as X-rays and exams, and oral surgery and prosthodontics, which includes items like dentures.
“Oral health is health,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “We know that the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted all areas of health, including oral/dental health. With this new benefit, Virginians will be able to receive the care they so rightly deserve. I am grateful to the dental community, the Virginia Dental Association, the General Assembly, and the Department for Medical Assistance Services for all of their work to make this happen. Together, we can make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”
Since 2000, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation has worked to increase accessibility to dental care through its Mission of Mercy clinics. The clinics address oral health needs in underserved communities and areas throughout Virginia by providing free dental care.
VDAF programs serve an average of about 6,500 individuals annually.
“Helping more people in Virginia access dental services is especially important this year with national reports pointing to the pandemic’s negative impact on oral health,” Iuorno said.
A Health Policy Institute survey released in March revealed that more than 70 percent of dentists nationwide saw an increase of patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, conditions often associated with stress. The survey also found that just more than 60 percent of dentists reported an increase in other stress-related dental conditions, including chipped and cracked teeth and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) symptoms such as headaches and jaw pain.
In another survey last fall, more than a quarter of dentists reported increases in cavities and periodontal disease.