New year brings expanded services for Denti-Cal

Dec 27, 2017

Low-income dental patients in California will have new access to important procedures, such as crowns and root canals, starting January 1.

Dental providers and community advocates have told horror stories for years about patients having salvageable teeth extracted because of inadequate coverage through the state’s Denti-Cal program.

During the recession, the state scrapped most adult benefits.

"Once they lost the adult coverage, then patients were only coming in for emergency services," said Ariane Terlet, chief dental officer for La Clínica de la Raza in Oakland. "Because if it wasn’t covered, they couldn’t afford it, which is the whole purpose of why they’re on Medi-Cal or Denti-Cal in the first place."

Lawmakers restored some benefits in 2014, and a full restoration takes effect in the New Year.

In June, providers also got a pay bump to encourage more dentists to see Denti-Cal patients.