Toward Patient-Centered Oral Health
Improving Dental Care and Patient Experience Using “Minimally-Invasive” Care
Many people struggle to access or afford dental care for a variety of reasons, including related to insurance coverage, cost of care, and access to providers. People of color, Tribal communities, people with disabilities, low-income communities, and other marginalized populations face the greatest barriers to dental care. Policy solutions to improve access can go a long way toward improving community oral health. However, the type of care and treatment that people receive once they do access care is also critical.
In general, most people are not given a choice in the type or level of care they receive in the dental office and, like access, patient experience is also impacted by racism and other forms of discrimination. This is especially true in communities that have long lacked access to care, dental visits can consist of intensive, complex, and painful procedures. Fortunately, less invasive options are often available. They offer opportunities to improve peoples’ choices, their health, and their dental care experience.
What is “minimally-invasive” care?
Minimally-Invasive Care (MIC) is effective care that’s less complex than what most people are used to. When people think of dental care, they most often imagine “traditional” dental procedures like drilling and filling cavities, root canals, pulling teeth, and getting dentures (or other dental prosthetics). These services are typically provided in a dentist’s office or perhaps an operating room. While these can be necessary procedures, less invasive care may be available and an effective alternative in many cases. Such care offers ways to protect and improve oral health and to give people options about the care they want to receive.
This brief was developed with support from the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.