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Oral Health

The mission of the Oral Health Program is to promote good oral health as an integral part of the well-being of all Pennsylvanians, reinforcing the concept that you cannot be truly healthy without good oral health.  The program puts special emphasis on populations that have limited access to dental preventive and treatment sources and information.  Legislative authority for the program comes from Act 87 of 1996 that calls for the Department to "apportion this Commonwealth into Dental Health Districts, administered by a public health dentist within the Department, who shall implement dental health policies and programs for the various communities and political subdivisions within this Commonwealth."

The Program will collaborate with other governmental agencies and local community groups and associations on good oral health promotional efforts and actions.  The Program will focus on the following areas among others:

  • Prevention of oral disease through the stressing of proper personal and community preventive behavior and actions including:
    • Community water fluoridation
    • School based and school linked sealant programs for low income populations
    • Routine oral cancer screenings
    • Proper oral hygiene behavior by parents and children
  • Assessment of oral health status of the Pennsylvania population.
  • Access to dental health services for the underserved.
  • Departmental spokesperson on dental issues and liaison to the dental profession.
  • Representation for the Secretary of Health on the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry.

Oral Health Care Programs

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Oral Health Program coordinates and implements initiatives that integrate prevention and management of dental disease.  Prevention efforts target at risk populations such as low-income, pregnant women, and infants.  The State Public Health Dentist and a program administrator provide technical assistance and guidance to community-based efforts to increase access to oral health services.  The State Public Health Dentist serves as the Secretary of Health's representative on the State Dental Board and as the Department's liaison to the dental community.

Safety Net Dental Clinics:
Safety net clinics are most often non-profit, community-sponsored dental clinics that see patients without limited access to dental care, such as those with low-income or patients on public insurance who cannot find a private dentist willing to see them.  Dental treatment is either done at no cost or on a sliding scale. Each program has limitations and availability of appointments, so call to find out the specifics of a clinic near you. To identify nearby clinics, follow the below link, and then click on the desired county(s) to see a list of the clinics in that county(s).

Information on State Loan Repayment Programs, Shortage area Designations, Challenge Grants, Practice Opportunities:

Click here for the Pennsylvania Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program.

Donated Dental Services:

Donated Dental Services (DDS) program in Pennsylvania provides dental services for indigent residents of Pennsylvania who are either over age 65, or who have physical or mental disabilities, or who are otherwise medically compromised. DDS can be reached at 844-489-9446 (toll-free).

Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers (PACHC):
Established in 1981 as a private non-profit organization, the PACHC is the state association of community health centers. These community-owned and operated rural and urban centers provide quality health care that is both affordable and accessible. Most receive some federal grant support from the Public Health Service. 

National Health Service Corp: 

The National Health Service Corp (NHSC) provides comprehensive team-based health care that bridges geographic, financial, cultural, and language barriers. The NHSC works closely with the Health Resources and Services Administration to recruit primary care clinicians for communities in need. 

State Sponsored Health Payment Programs for Low-income Patients:

Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP):
Call 1-800-986-KIDS for information or follow above link.

HealthCare/Medical Assistance:
Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid, and sometimes referred to as MA, pays for health care services for eligible individuals.