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About Oral Health
Today, oral health and dental access remain one of the most significant unmet health needs in our community.  Severe dental problems have an impact on overall health and serious health problems such as heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, low birth weight and premature births.  The Surgeon General’s Report: Oral Health in America has called attention to this important connection.  The report states that if left untreated, poor oral health is a “silent X-factor promoting the onset of life-threatening diseases which are responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans each year.” Oral infections and dental diseases are costly for families, employers and the government.  Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions have a considerable impact on quality of life, including loss of self-esteem, decreased economic productivity, poor performance at school, and potentially, death.  Since 2000, the Dental Task Force has remained committed to monitoring oral health status and facilitating local efforts to address access to dental care and improved oral health in Summit County.

Oral Health Isn’t Optional...

Oral health is critical to our general health and well-being.  Oral health enables us to eat properly, work productively, go to school ready to focus on learning, feel good about our appearance and enjoy life.  The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, providing clues about overall health.  It is sometimes the first place where signs and symptoms of other serious diseases are noticed.  Unfortunately, oral health care is too often viewed by some as an “extra”, sought or provided only after other health care considered more important is secured.  Oral Health Isn’t Optional!

Access Issues

Access to dental care means that people can get the dental care they need when they want it. Many factors influence a person’s ability to access dental care in a timely manner and to achieve the best possible oral health outcomes.

Some of these barriers include:

  • Lack of dental insurance
  • Financial constraints
  • Locating a dentist willing to accept Medicaid or provide treatment on a payment plan or at reduced cost is often
    challenging, especially for adults.
  • Dental care being a low priority compared to other financial issues
  • Transportation issues

Hospital emergency departments in Summit County often receive individuals who lack access to appropriate dental services.  But many emergency departments can offer only palliative treatment. The patient’s pain or infection may be relieved temporarily, but he or she must make an appointment to see a dentist for treatment of the dental problem.  A dentist may not be seen because of barriers in accessing care.  Often a repeat visit to an emergency room is the outcome, resulting in additional costs to the health care system.

Dental Sealant Delivery (School-Based Programs)
Despite substantial improvements in reducing tooth decay (dental caries) in the United States, tooth decay remains one of the most common childhood diseases.  It can result in considerable financial burden, especially among poor children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years, who are almost twice as likely to have untreated decay as other children. Fluoride use has been credited with much of the decline in dental decay over the past four decades but has limited effectiveness on the chewing surfaces (pits and fissures) of teeth. Today, most decay is found in the pits and fissures of molar teeth. Use of dental sealants – a plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces – can prevent decay on these surfaces.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early decay. In children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.

Community Water Fluoridation:


Raising Awareness of the importance of oral health and access to dental care: Implementation of a cross-organizational oral health information program will be necessary.  Strong “grass roots” support from key community agencies, educational institutions, and funding sources are essential for successfully addressing the goal of providing and sustaining adequate oral health care access for all people of Summit County.

Reports of the Dental Task Force

In 2007, the Task Force presented to the community The Status of Oral Health in Summit County providing information on the oral health of the community and an inventory of available oral health care resources.  The report offered four recommendations to help close the gap in dental services:

  • Provide sustainable support for the safety net dental clinic associated with the Federally Qualified Health Care system in Summit County.
  • Assure that all community health care access strategies include an oral health component.
  • Expand school-based sealant delivery programs coupled with oral health promotion programs.
  • Expand dental professional participation in OPTIONS program in Summit County.

In 2011, the Task Force updated the community in a follow-up report Summit County Dental Task Force Report 2011. The report noted that, despite impressive advances in the last ten years in the availability of oral health care and prevention services, oral diseases still adversely affect a large proportion of Summit County residents.  Dental emergency treatment options remain limited, both for children and adults.



The Task Force presented a new series of recommendations for addressing outstanding issues:

  • Provide a focused marketing public health message on oral health; stress the close relationship of oral health status with overall health.
  • Adopt a community health model, which may include a component of a community health dental worker and/or mid-level providers
  • Encourage and support the establishment of M.P.H. oral health probrams, which collaborate with local health districts and community health programs.
  • Work in partnership with local universities and colleges to implement an educaiton for service initiative for community health models.

Dental Resources

Axess Pointe (formerly ACHR)
1400 South Arlington Street
Akron, OH - 44306

The Dental Clinic offers:

  • Dental Exams
  • Pediatric Exams
  • Cleanings
  • Diagnostic X-rays
  • Fluoride Treatments
  • Sealants
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Related Dental Services
  • Referrals to Oral Surgeons

ACHR takes new patients daily, however you must pre-register for dental services. Please stop in one of their offices with proof of household income to pre-qualify or call 888-975-9188 for more information. They accept all insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and offer a sliding scale fee program.


Beacon Journal Charity Fund For Dental Services
333 South Main Street, Suite 319
Akron, OH - 44308
The fund provides assistance with non-routine dental care, primarily orthodontic treatment for underprivileged children age 18 and younger. The program does not assist with contact lenses and does not provide emergency treatment or pay existing medical or hospital bills. Call the office for more information.  Applications may be obtained at the Summit County Public Health, Akron Public Schools Health & Social Services Referral Center, school nurses or accredited social services agency.  All services must be approved prior to the actual treatment.  All requests are reviewed and subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.


Ohio Dental Options Program 
Dental OPTIONS (Ohio Partnership To Improve Oral health through access to Needed Services) is a program offered by the Ohio Department of Health in partnership with the Ohio Dental Association.  The mission of OPTIONS is to assist Ohioans with special health care needs and/or financial barriers to obtain dental care.  Eligible patients are matched with volunteer OPTIONS dentists who have agreed to reduce fees for dental care.


Summa Center for Dental Health
In July 2007, Summa Health System established a dental residency program and the opened the Center for Dental Health, located at 75 Arch Street, Suite 303 in Akron. The clinic is open from 8:30-5:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Services for dental care include a full range of treatment options, including crown & bridge, partials, dentures, oral surgery, endodontics, and dental implants. The Center works in conjunction with the Emergency Department staff and has a dental resident on call for evenings and weekends.  Patients can pay for dental services by cash, check or credit card, and low income patients can pay on a sliding fee schedule. The Center is happy to treat patients with any insurance plan that allows them to go to the dentist of their choice. Individuals should call (330) 375-6262 to schedule an appointment.

Summit County Public Health Dental Clinic
1100 Graham Road Circle
Stow, OH  44224

(330)926-5660 to schedule an appointment

The Dental Clinic offers:

  • Dental Exams
  • Pediatric Exams
  • Cleanings
  • Diagnostic X-rays
  • Fluoride Treatments
  • Sealants
  • Fillings
  • Extractions
  • Related Dental Services
  • Referrals to Oral Surgeons

SCPH’s dental clinic is open 5 days a week.  We accept Medicaid insurance, Medicaid HMO’s and for those without insurance, we have a reduced fee schedule.  Visit our website for more information at


Dental Task Force Members
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