Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care for underserved children and families in Louisiana, today announced its dentists have provided $13.7 million in uncompensated dental care since 2010. The uncompensated dental care program has helped more than 115,000 patients in Louisiana receive necessary dental treatments in instances where they did not have access to the Medicaid dental benefit or other dental insurance, and could not afford to pay out of pocket for needed dental services.
“At Kool Smiles, we believe every family deserves high-quality, affordable and compassionate dental care,” said Dr. Brad Bryan, Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles in Louisiana. “Our mission is to provide a dental home to every family who needs one by accepting insurance plans – including Medicaid and TRICARE – that many dentists do not. We also know there are times when insurance does not cover needed treatments, and families can’t afford to pay out of pocket for those services. We believe it’s our moral and professional duty to provide uncompensated care in those situations so that all patients receive the dental care they need, regardless of their insurance coverage.”
Access to affordable dental care remains a challenge in many communities throughout the United States. Only about one-third of all dentists accept Medicaid or other public insurance, according to a 2014 survey from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Without access to preventive dental care, many patients are left to seek expensive emergency dental care for unaddressed oral health needs. According to a 2015 report from the ADA, in 2012 there were more than two million dental-related visits to hospital emergency rooms, which accounted for about $1.6 billion in health costs.
According to a 2016 Pew Charitable Trusts report, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among U.S. children – five times more prevalent than asthma – and dental care is one of the nation’s greatest unmet health needs among children, especially in low-income, minority, and rural communities. In Louisiana alone, 41 percent of third graders had untreated dental caries in 2009, according to the State Oral Health Survey. Nationwide, more than four million children did not receive needed dental care because their families could not afford it. Even when controlling for insurance status, low-income and minority children remain less likely than higher income children to receive preventive dental care, according to the report.
As a leading dental health provider, Kool Smiles’ mission is to improve lives by providing high-quality dental care in a fun, compassionate environment. Founded in 2002, Kool Smiles has nine dental practices throughout Louisiana, primarily in underserved communities that have historically lacked access to dental care. Kool Smiles dentists are proud to offer care to children and adults with almost any insurance plan, including State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), Medicaid and TRICARE. Kool Smiles also provides oral health education and outreach programs through partnerships with community schools and organizations. For more information, please visit www.mykoolsmiles.com.