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Dental Safety Net Clinics

Dental safety net clinics strive to provide oral health care to many people and their families who have low incomes. Services are provided regardless of a person’s ability to pay. In general, dental safety net clinics are in communities where people with low incomes live.

Who do dental safety net clinics serve?

As part of their mission, safety net clinics generally serve people who:

  • don’t have a regular dentist.
  • are enrolled in Medicaid or don’t have adequate dental insurance.
  • can’t afford to pay for care out-of-pocket.
  • have more unmet oral health needs such as the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, people who are medically compromised, children and those living in remote geographical areas.

Who operates dental safety net clinics?

Most dental safety net clinics are operated by public agencies, including public hospitals and health systems, local health departments or private, nonprofit corporations. The composition and functioning of the dental care safety net varies from one county or community to another. Ohio’s largest dental safety net clinics tend to be in dental schools or hospitals, where Medicaid is accepted but sliding fee schedules are rare. Reduced fees and payment plans, if available at all, tend to be handled on a case-by-case basis at these clinics.

The biggest group of clinics not in hospitals or dental schools tends to be federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and FQHC “look-alikes.” These clinics are more likely to offer sliding fee schedules or reduced fees based on family income.

This is a pie chart that shows the number of dental safety net clinics in Ohio by their hours of operation.


What types of clinics are there? 

Clinics can be fixed or mobile, and provide services that are comprehensive, preventive, and/or surgical.

The pie chart to the left shows how many dental safety net clinics are open full-time, part-time, have limited hours, or are only opened part of the year. View these pie charts to see other characteristics of clinics in Ohio.



Has the number of Ohio’s dental safety net of clinics been growing?

The number of Ohio dental safety net clinics grew from 88 in 1999 (82% were comprehensive) to 122 in 2008, and to 156 (87% comprehensive) in 2017. In addition, several clinics expanded capacity between 1999 and 2017. Much of the support for this growth came through grants from the Ohio Department of Health and some Ohio charitable foundations.

How can I find dental safety net clinics in Ohio?

Click on Clinic Database in the left-side menu to see a list of dental safety net clinics in Ohio, in alphabetical order by county. A brochure is also available.

Page Updated: 02/23/2018