Chapters

 

 
Welcome image

Welcome to Safety Net Dental Clinic Manual, which is designed to help safety net dental clinic staff with all aspects of clinic development and ongoing operations.

National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center

National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center

Ohio Department of Health

Ohio Department of Health

Safety Net Solutions

Safety Net Solutions

Indian Health Service

Indian Health Service

Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors

Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors

National Network for Oral Health Access

National Network for Oral Health Access

Photo showing group of professionals.

How will you use this manual?
Experienced clinic director? New clinic administrator? Either way, you've come to the right place. You may view the chapters as a series of steps to follow when launching a dental clinic or focus on particular topics of interest. The manual is presented in an easy-to-use format, and includes tools and resources like clinic policies, efficiency tips, professional standards, supply lists, floor plans, design tips, photos of equipment, customizable budget worksheets, funding strategies, quality improvement plans, fact sheets, and Web sites.

Who needs this manual?
Perhaps you are a safety net dental clinic director facing major challenges. Your clinic has a long waiting list and has been mired in red ink for years. You want to make the clinic efficient and sustainable. You don't know whether the solution lies in improved staffing patterns, revised clinic policies, or facility design. Or is the problem that you lack a business plan? This manual discusses the pros and cons of various options and links to other resources to help you make decisions.

What is the dental care safety net?
The dental care safety net is where people go

  • When they don't have a regular dentist
  • Because they know their Medicaid card will be accepted
  • Because they won't be turned away when they are in pain and can't afford care
  • Because the clinic is close to home and linked to their other health care providers

The Institute of Medicine's report, America's Health Care Safety Net external link (2000), defines safety net providers as those who "organize and deliver a significant level of health care and other health-related services to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients." Safety net clinics may be operated by federally qualified health centers, local health departments, neighborhood health centers that are private not-for-profit agencies, rural health centers, Indian Health Service or tribal units, institutions, schools, hospitals, or other entities.

Why do we need a dental care safety net?
The Surgeon General's Report, Oral Health in America external link (2000), provides a thorough review of the nation's oral health and the need for both community-based and individual approaches to prevention and treatment of oral conditions. It also emphasizes that oral health is essential to general health and that systemic conditions influence oral health. Despite advances in technology and the scientific understanding of oral diseases, significant disparities exist in oral disease rates and access to dental care among subgroups of the population. The dental safety net attempts to bridge the gap for these disenfranchised groups.

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