New community dental clinic in north Philly

    Temple University’s dental school is launching a new program that targets communities where dentists are scarce.

    Temple University’s dental school is starting a first-of-its kind program to train dentists to run community health centers. Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk that the program includes a new dental clinic in north Philadelphia.

    Finding a dentist in parts of Philadelphia can be difficult — especially for low-income patients who have Medicaid insurance and for those who are uninsured.

    Community health centers are considered the safety net for people who otherwise can’t access care. And Temple’s new training program for dentists will provide the leadership for these centers as they expand across the US.

    Amid Ismail, the dean of the dental school, says the quality of care should be the same as in private practice.

    Ismail: But managing the clinic in terms of how you receive the patients, your scheduling system, your financial management system, the open door policy that you have to follow in the clinic are different because you have a different population with different needs and different pressures on them.

    Judith Lave is co-director of the Center for Research on Health Care at the University of Pittsburgh. She says the program should help address problems people have getting to a dentist.

    Lave: There are problems not only on the supply side but on the demand side so one has to make sure the environment of the clinic is conducive for patients to come and there are strong outreach activities involved.

    Lave says dental work is usually a low priority for people without insurance.

    Students will train at a new community dental clinic that will open on campus next year. Patients will pay on a sliding scale, and no one will be turned away based on their insurance, or lack of it.

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