Dental Care Crisis in County

Dental Care Crisis in County

Santa Cruz Oral Health Access Team Making Progress

Dental Care Crisis Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comThe number of Santa Cruz County residents on Medi-Cal who have gone to the dentist has increased by 20% since 2014, a success announced by Oral Health Access Santa Cruz County (OHASCC) in its newly released 2018 Report Card.

This means that more low-income children, adults and seniors have been improving their health—as well as their ability to eat, speak clearly, find jobs, and build self-confidence—by accessing dental care.

Released on June 11, 2018, the Report Card showcases improvements made towards Oral Health Access Strategic Plan goals to address the local dental disease epidemic.

“I’m proud of the work that we have done since we launched these efforts a year and a half ago. We have just started and have already made a measurable impact in our county,” commented OHASCC Steering Committee co-chair and Dientes’ Chief Dental Officer Dr. Sepi Taghvaei. OHASCC steering committee is comprised of healthcare providers, policy makers and education advocates.

Dental Care Crisis Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comThere are several bright spots in the report card, most notably with young children.

  • A 3% increase in children ages 0-3 who have gone to the dentist is attributed to work on the strategic plan’s first goal — an education campaign for parents and health care providers on the importance of seeing a dentist by the time a baby has their first tooth or celebrates their first birthday by raising awareness through outreach by Central California Alliance for Health and First Five Santa Cruz County to over 110,000 local health providers and Medi-Cal recipients across three counties as well as families of Santa Cruz County newborns.
  • The rate of children aged 0-11 who have never been to the dentist has been cut in half to 15%. Partnership with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) helped achieve this progress on the strategic plan’s second goal to promote kindergarten oral visits. COE included 35,000 dental visit forms in new student enrollment packets, and Dientes and Salud Para le Gente made room in their schedules for these students.
  • There has been a 270% increase in the number of Santa Cruz County children aged 0-5 with Medi-Cal who received fluoride varnish on their teeth during a medical visit, a strategic plan goal to expand prevention efforts. As a standard part of well-child visits, 64 medical staff for Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, and Watsonville Health Center received training from Child Health and Disability Program offices and Dientes on how to apply the varnish.

Dental Care Crisis Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comSince 2014, Dientes Community Dental Care and Salud Para La Gente together have seen a 30% growth in overall dental visits and a 17% increase in patients of all ages.

  • To expand clinical capacity, Dientes Community Dental Care will be increasing the hours at their Beach Flats clinic to full-time in September 2018; and are planning to open a new Live Oak clinic in 2020 that will serve 8,000 additional children, adults and seniors.
  • Salud Para La Gente has hired one new dentist and three new hygienists in addition to sponsoring four assistants in a mid-level training program to improve efficiency and expand treatment capacity.

A $1 million investment over the next five years from a California State Proposition 56 grant to the County of Santa Cruz is already bolstering efforts to expand current efforts.

The OHASCC Steering Committee co-chair and County Supervisor Zach Friend remarked, “We have the right strategy, pulled the right team together, and found the right financial support to really make a long-lasting impact on the health and happiness of our entire community.

This investment in access to oral health care for everyone will pay huge dividends for years to come.”


Visit to learn more and read the 2018 Report Card.

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