Oral health disparities may be exacerbated by the structure of the existing dental care delivery system. The practice of dentistry has remained in the private sector, providing services to those willing to access care in private offices and pay for services, either out-of-pocket or by using dental insurance coverage. And although there is now an increase in public funding,5 most populations still access dental services via the private clinical setting.
The populations who need dental care the most are often without the means to pay for services. Many individuals present to the emergency rooms in local hospitals with complicated infections. Treatment subsequently costs exponentially more than prevention, not to mention the pain and suffering the individuals and families experience. Any level of primary, secondary, or tertiary services could prevent these problems.18 Dental care generally is not as effectively positioned as comprehensive health care, nor is it practiced in an inter-professional manner. Integrating dental care within overall health and social systems could improve the dental care system infrastructure.
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