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Image by Cytonn Photography


Image by Michael Browning


Dental Access Partnership (DAP) Program is part of Operation Healthy Family’s Oral Health initiative designed to increase access to affordable, high-quality restorative dental care in a dignified setting for those who lack access to treatment. The DAP Program model integrates OHF’s dental care team (Restorative Hygienists, Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries, and Dental Assistants) with private dental practices that are motivated to help the vulnerable in our community. This approach provides time-consuming restorative services in a cost-effective manner by allowing a dental professional to work at their high scope of practice which makes continued partnership sustainable for the private sector. The DAP team of professionals has worked in a variety of settings such as Community Health Clinics and missionary work outside of the country. Many of our staff and volunteers speak multiple languages and are coming from families who sought refuge in the states and experienced poverty themselves. While others come from a diverse background of socially, racially, economically blended families and cultures.


Many of us have experienced dental pain often said to be worse than child labor. Some of our concerns are about the financial burdens that dental treatment can bring but others are not even able to get in the door to seek treatment often because “Medicaid” is not widely accepted due to the 33% reimbursement rates to provide treatment. Worse yet, our elderly, who often need extensive dental treatment and are physically unable to work for private insurance have NO DENTAL COVERAGE at all.


In 2012, 68% of adults had visited a dentist in the last year.  Among adults, 15% had lost 6 or more teeth due to decay.  Tooth loss increased as age increased and decreased as education level and income increased.  Visiting the dentist in the last year increased as education level and income increased.  (2015 Spokane Counts, Spokane Regional Health District)


The average annual increase in ED visit rates among 20- to 29-year-old during 2001-2010 was 6.1% for toothache, 0.3% for back pain, and 0.8% for all causes of ED visits. In 2009 and 2010, 20- to 29-year-old made an estimated 1.27 million ED visits for toothaches and accounted for 42% of all ED toothache visits. Toothache was the fifth most common reason for an ED visit and third most common for uninsured ED visits by age 20- to 29-. Independent risk factors for ED toothache visits were being uninsured or Medicaid-insured (according to The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 146, Issue 9, September 2015, Page 656).


Our objective is to connect community programs and their clients to culturally competent dental treatment. Restore oral health by completing treatment plans and getting clients on a prevention-based track by providing a dental home for continued dental care. Operation Healthy Family partners with dental offices and individual dental providers as well as but not limited to housing programs, treatment facilitated schools and churches. This program was developed organically, based on the community's needs and input. It is a collaborative, creative way to give, grow, serve, and become healthier as a whole community and nation. 

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