Homeless access to dental health care: Creation of a dental service model

Adriana Vargas, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This project involved developing a model for planning a dental emergency treatment center that could function as an embedded component of a shelter for the homeless population. The dental services provided by such a clinic should include treatment for tooth pain, dental caries or cavities, chipped or broken teeth, broken partials, abscessed teeth, emergency cleanings, periodontal disease or gum disease and fillings. These are the dental services that are most often sought by homeless people in hospital emergency rooms. The underlying assumption for this project was that the oral health needs of the homeless community can most effectively be addressed by implementing small dental clinics in existing facilities that provide shelter and other services for this population. The model described in this project identifies oral health care services that would be provided by the clinic, facility (physical plant) requirements and associated infrastructure to operate an embedded dental clinic, methods for obtaining funding, strategies of recruiting dental professionals to staff the facility, and methods to assess the outcomes of the embedded clinic strategy. As an example, this project describes a strategy for developing such an embedded clinic at San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries SAMM shelter based on recommendations from community health care leaders, managers of homeless shelters, members of the homeless community and dental professionals

Subject Area

Dentistry|Public health|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Vargas, Adriana, "Homeless access to dental health care: Creation of a dental service model" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1475397.