Policy & Advocacy

We mobilize diverse coalitions, champion policies, and create pathways that lead us to a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system.

family brushing teeth

Advancing Policy and Oral Health Systems Change

Changing our health system isn’t easy, but it is essential. We are committed to challenging and transforming traditional models of care to ensure that every person can reach their full potential.

Featured Resources

Medicaid Adult Dental Coverage Checker

The Coverage Checker is an interactive tool for policymakers, administrators, and advocates to easily understand where a given state’s Medicaid adult dental benefits package falls on a continuum from no dental benefits to extensive benefits, helping identify areas for improvement.

Oral Health Leaders Urge Congress to Strengthen Adult Dental Coverage

Members of Congress can be a part of the solution to promote positive health outcomes, address health inequities, provide economic opportunity in their communities, and curb healthcare costs. Leading oral health organizations urge Congress to strengthen Medicaid by ensure that all state programs offer to all enrollees dental benefits necessary to maintain optimal health.

Dimensions of Dental Hygiene: The Case for a Medicare Dental Benefit

Without dental coverage, older adults are less likely to visit the dentist. According to a recent national survey conducted by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, 16% of adults who reported they were without dental insurance had not seen a dentist in more than 5 years. This is more than 10% higher than the number of respondents with dental insurance who had not seen a dentist. Further, 40% of adults lacking dental insurance who had not seen a dentist in the past 2 years identified cost as the reason.

Strengthening Adult Dental Benefits in Medicaid

Why it's important

Within Medicaid, comprehensive dental coverage is mandatory for children, but benefits for Medicaid-eligible adults are optional. And states have flexibility in how they interpret “benefits,” resulting in coverage that varies tremendously across states. 

Strengthening dental coverage under the Medicaid program must be a policy priority in this country. That's why CareQuest Institute, working with other leading oral health organizations, created the Medicaid Adult Dental Coverage Checker. It's an interactive tool for policymakers, administrators, and advocates to easily understand where a given state’s Medicaid adult dental benefits package falls on a continuum from no dental benefits to extensive benefits, helping them identify areas for improvement and expansion.

What we're doing

In addition to the Coverage Checker, we provide resources, educational materials, and grants to support state and federal efforts to protect and strengthen adult dental benefits in Medicaid.

Learn more about adult dental benefits

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Adding a Dental Benefit to Medicare

provider and patient
Why it's important

Longstanding evidence shows that poor oral health negatively impacts physical, mental, and economic well-being. Yet, nearly one-fourth of the US population does not have dental coverage. Medicare does not mandate coverage for the treatment of dental disease, nor does it cover most dental care, procedures, or supplies. In fact, nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries, or 26 million people, do not have dental coverage as of 2021

There was momentum behind adding dental to Medicare in the fall of 2021, but the social spending proposal was trimmed, keeping the benefit out of the program for now.

Without policy change to help people access oral health care, we will continue to perpetuate unnecessary dental disease and harmful inequities, increasing unsustainable strain on the health care system and economy at large.

What we're doing

We provide resources, educational materials, and grants to support efforts to expand adult dental benefits.

View Medicare medically necessary fact sheet

Learn more about adult dental benefits

Expanding the Use of Teledentistry

Why it's important

Teledentistry enables providers to triage patients, reserving office visits for those who need them most, while providing oral hygiene advice, prescriptions, or other services virtually as appropriate. The benefits are especially pronounced for certain populations. More than 56 million Americans, for example, live in areas with a shortage of dental professionals. Others face limitations such as impaired mobility, inflexible job schedules, and emotional barriers such as fear of going to the dentist. In sum, teledentistry services can expand oral health access, lower costs, improve health outcomes, and boost patient satisfaction, making it a critical tool for oral health transformation. ​

What we're doing

We are advocating at the state and federal levels to expand access to teledentistry.

Learn more about teledentistry

provider and patient teledentistry appointment

Organizations We're Collaborating with to Improve Oral Health

Together, we champion policy changes that advance equity and incorporate oral health as a core component of our health system.

Our Impact

Explore the CareQuest Institute Impact Report 2022 to find videos, stories, and statistics about how we’re improving the oral health system through our collaborative work in grantmaking, research, health improvement, policy and advocacy, and education.

The Latest

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Video & Blog Post

A Health Center in Michigan Shows the Path to Value and Sustainability

Mother and child at doctor exam

Minimizing the Gap of Underrepresentation in Dentistry

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Online Course

Glass Ionomer Cement: Prevention and Beyond