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Pediatric Dental Center

The Dental Crisis

Dental health can influence a child's chances for success in school. Chronic dental problems can lead to a lack of concentration, absenteeism, poor self-esteem and reduced school performance. Children who receive inadequate dental care or no dental care at all can develop long-term oral health problems and are more likely to experience dental conditions that require emergency treatment.


Access to dental care, both nationally and locally, is a major obstacle confronting children from poor, working poor and uninsured families. Minority children have the greatest extent of untreated dental problems.


In Rhode Island, like many other states, the reality is that most dentists do not accept patients who are uninsured or insured by Medicaid. The reimbursement rate administered via the RI Medical Assistance Program for both community dentists and hospital-based dental centers has not been increased since 1993. In order to meet the statewide goal of increased access to oral health care for the Medicaid population, a rate enhancement is critical.


In spite of strict budget economies and efficiencies in operations, inadequate reimbursement makes it impossible to cover all expenses for dental services without seeking additional public and private financial support. Although St. Joseph Hospital has been fortunate to receive funding from both the public and private sectors over the past few years, it is essential that supplemental funds continue for the hospital to meet the on-going expenses related to providing quality oral health care to children and young adults from Providence and across the State. St. Joseph Hospital continues to work closely with our congressional delegation, Rhode Island Legislators, various state departments and the Senate Oral Health Commission to advocate adequate reimbursement and special funding.


 “Access to preventative dental care continues to be a major obstacle for thousands of Rhode Island's children. The St. Joseph Hospital Pediatric Dental Center is a shining light, offering high quality, comprehensive dental care to children who need it most. St. Joseph Hospital proves it can be done with the highest standards of care, a professional staff, a strong neighborhood presence, and the ongoing advocacy it takes. They truly provide what children and families need to thrive.” 


Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director, RI Kids Count