Oral health needs and access to dental care of homeless adults in the United States: a review

Authors

  • Tracy B. King RDH, MS,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Coordinator, Homeless Veterans Dental Program, VA North Texas Health Care System, 4500 S. Lancaster Rd., Dallas, TX 75216 USA
    2. Assistant Professor, Caruth School of Dental Hygiene
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  • Gretchen Gibson DDS, MPH

    1. Coordinator, Homeless Veterans Dental Program, VA North Texas Health Care System, 4500 S. Lancaster Rd., Dallas, TX 75216 USA
    2. Clinical Associate Professor, Department of General Dentistry; Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Dallas
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*Tracy.king@med.va.gov

ABSTRACT

The homeless population in the United States is one of great diversity that continues to increase in number. Although data on the oral health status of individuals who are homeless is limited, studies consistently report both the perception and clinical evidence of dental needs among this population as well as a low utilization rate for dental services. This article reviews the oral health needs of people who are homeless as reported in literature, barriers to receiving dental care, and methods used to deliver dental care to this population. Many rehabilitation centers for adults who are homeless consider the establishment and maintenance of a state of good general and oral health as a priority and a key factor in helping homeless adults to return to the workforce and mainstream society.

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