Matteen Kashef, Trevon Bailey
Focus on Access to Care in the Journal of the American Dental Association
Matteen Kashef, Virginia Dodd, Laura Guyer
Dr. Laura Guyer, Dr. Virginia Dodd
College of Dentistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Over 60 million Americans live in Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas; 43% of U.S. dentists accept Medicaid or CHIP making access to dental care a contributing factor in oral health disparities. As the preeminent dental journal, The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) has influenced the dental profession since 1913. This study reviews JADAs attention to oral health disparities via trends in socio-economic and geographical contexts over time. A journal review of JADA titles from January 1913 – August 2020 identified themes relevant to oral health disparities, i.e., the distribution and shortage of dentists, and private/public dentistry trends. The review identified the initial focus of JADA in 1913 on public health dentistry. By the 1950s emphasis shifted to maximizing practice profit with increased promotion of private over public health dental practice. Overall, in the 20th century, articles focusing on serving economically disadvantaged populations were infrequent. Fortunately, focus on these issues has steadily increased. Initially JADAs attention to urban/rural geographic practice maldistributions was sparse; over the past 20 years this attention has increased. Measuring JADAs attention to current topics aids in identifying issues and concerns relevant to the dental profession. This understanding can help message tailoring in future educational efforts targeting dental professionals and designed to elucidate issues critical to improving the publics access to oral healthcare.
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