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Dental Clinics


Safety net dental 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, safety net clinics are in communities where people with low incomes live.

This Web page provides a one-stop-shop for information, resources and support for Ohio's safety net dental clinics.

About Ohio's Safety Net Dental Clinics

Who do safety net dental 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 safety net dental clinics?

Most safety net dental 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 safety net dental 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.

What types of clinics are there?

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

View these pie charts to see the characteristics of Ohio's safety net dental clinics, such as the number, type and overall hours of operation.

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

The number of Ohio safety net dental clinics grew from 88 in 1999 (82% provided comprehensive services) to 122 in 2008, and to 176 (88% providing comprehensive services) in 2020. In addition, several clinics expanded capacity during this time. Much of the support for this growth came through grants from the Ohio Department of Health and some Ohio charitable foundations.

ODH Funding for Ohio’s Safety Net Dental Clinics

The Ohio Department of Health provides funding to several of Ohio's safety net dental clinics to help offset the cost of uncompensated care. Funding supports dental services for Ohioans who have low incomes and are uninsured for dental care.

Currently funded agencies are listed below. 

                                                       Safety Net Dental Care Grants

                          Calendar Year 2021 (Jan. 2, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021) Year 2 of 3






PrimaryOne Health



Cincinnati City Health Department



Mercy Health – Youngstown



Medina County Health Department



Valley View Health Centers


Clinical Guidelines

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas

A dental health professional shortage area (HPSA) is a geographic area where there aren’t enough dentists to serve the dental needs of the people living there. The designation is used primarily for the purposes of giving loan repayment to dentists and dental hygienists. For more information about loan repayment, visit the Primary Care Office website and click on Workforce Programs in the left-hand menu. An area must meet three requirements to become a HPSA:

  • The area must be defined as a “rational service area,” meaning that the area must be homogenous and logical in terms of demographics, socio-economics and physical barriers. Often, rural HPSAs are defined either by county or a group of townships. Urban HPSAs are described by defined neighborhoods or groups of census tracts.
  • A specific dentist-to-population ratio for each type of HPSA must be met.
  • The application for the HPSA must verify that there are not enough dental services available in neighboring areas for the population seeking the designation.

A map of the Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and safety net dental programs in Ohio.

Requests for dental HPSA designations can be made at any time. Each designation is periodically updated. For more detailed information (e.g., townships or census tracts contained in each HPSA), access the national Health Professional Shortage Area database maintained by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

For more information, please contact:

Ohio Department of Health, Primary Care Office
246 N. High St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 644-8496
Fax: (614) 564-2432
E-mail: HealthPolicy@odh.ohio.gov

Dental Practice Act and Regulations

E-Newsletters and Discussion Lists


Discussion Lists

  • Community Oral Health Programs is a forum for communication between local oral health directors and personnel to discuss the operation of local oral health programs. Subscribe online on the Community Oral Health Programs Discussion List page.
  • Dental Management Coalition (DMC) is intended for dental directors and staff of community health centers. To subscribe to DMC, go to the Web site, and click on the appropriate envelope icon.
  • The Dental Public Health List Serve is intended for dental public health professionals and policymakers. Subscribe online.

Funding for Dental Safety Net Programs

The following list includes key oral health grantmaking organizations in Ohio. Information on funding cycles, areas of interest, and requirements are posted online. Visit each organization's website to learn more.

Job Postings

  • HRSA Connector
    Enter "dentist" or "dental hygienist" and selection "Ohio."
  • Bulletin Board: To submit a posting for this page, please send an e-mail to bcfhs@odh.ohio.gov.
    • The Medina County Health Department, a nationally accredited health department, has a full-time opening for a Dental Services Supervisor to oversee a team of dental assistants and administer, maintain, and expand dental programming in a Federally Qualified Health Center(FQHC) setting. The position is involved in quality improvement activities related to patient care, process efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

      General Qualifications (including but not limited to): Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration or related field. Minimum two years related experience. Proficient in a current version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. Experience in dental practice management a plus. 

      Essential Functions of the position include but are not limited to: Assures dental clinical records are held in compliance with agency confidentiality and HIPPA guidelines; supervises clinical staff including hiring, orientation, and performance evaluation, disciplinary processes, revision/update of position descriptions, staff scheduling and staff development; and assures all necessary operational supplies and equipment essential to operations of dental services are in place. Maintains inventory control measures. Keeps current with technological advances and workplace innovations that support job functions. Works collaboratively with Health Center team members to assure availability, scheduling, and assignment of clinical staff for both routine and special programming. Demonstrates the ability to work independently and autonomously. Ability to problem solve and strategize to assure optimal, cost-effective operations. 

      How to Apply: Interested applicants will apply by completing the Medina County Health Department Employment Application located on our website at www.medinahealth.org. Print out the application, complete it and send it along with a current resume with cover letter to: Human Resources, Medina County Health Department, 4800 Ledgewood Drive, Medina, Ohio 44256; or fax to (330) 723-9659; or e-mail to hr@medinahealth.org. The position will be posted until filled. EOE

    • The City of Cincinnati is seeking a full-time dentist to work in its Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Primary Health Care System. The dentist would have the opportunity to join a team of dentists committed to excellence in patient care and to making a real impact on the serving community. The ideal candidate should enjoy challenging treatment plans, oral surgery, removable prosthodontics and pediatrics. Most importantly, the candidate should be compassionate, patient and empathetic. The Cincinnati Health Department offers competitive salaries, generous fringe benefits including health, dental and vision insurance, malpractice coverage, paid holidays, vacation and sick time, CE opportunities and federal loan repayment. Working hours are primarily during the week days. To inquire further about this opportunity, please contact Nancy Carter at 513-357-7383 or

    • NorthEast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. (NEON) in Cleveland is seeking several dental professionals for our FQHC network of community health centers. To apply, please send resume/CV to Vicki Marie at mariev@neonhealth.org. See available positions below:
      • NEON is dedicated to improving access and reducing health disparities in Greater Cleveland. Primary care services include family medicine, adult medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, OB/GYN, behavioral health. On-site ancillary services include: laboratory, pharmacy, x-ray, mammography and ultrasound. Patients have access to services seven days a week through extended evening and weekend hours. NEON is accredited by the Joint Commission, and an NHSC and Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment eligible site.

      • Dental Hygienist: Performs dental x-rays and oral examinations of patient's teeth and gingival structures using dental instruments and probes to locate periodontal and gum disease. Evaluates and documents condition of decay and disease for diagnosis and treatment by dentist. Performs cleaning of calcareous deposits, accretions and stains from teeth and beneath margins of gums and applies fluoride and other cavity preventing agents to arrest dental decay. Plays a key role in the oral health care team in promoting good oral health and related disease prevention. Participates in community dental health education programs, outreach and health fairs when needed. Graduate of an accredited dental hygiene school and passage of regional or state licensing board examinations as applicable. State of Ohio Dental Hygiene license and current State of Ohio Radiograph license.
      • Dentist: Responsible for providing coordinated and quality dental care for adults and children. Provides full range of preventive and diagnostic services including cleanings, exams and treatment planning. Implements treatment plans and performs restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns and root canal treatments, as well as extractions and fixed and removable prosthodontics. Provides oral health education and counseling. Performs other procedures, prescribing and referring patients for specialized consultation. Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) with unrestricted license to practice in the State of Ohio is required. Residency is preferred but not required.

Information about Medicaid for Safety Net Dental Clinics

Spotlight on Dental News

Listed below are recent news items about oral health in Ohio that may be of interest to staff in Ohio's safety net dental clinics. If you have a newsworthy item to share, please send an e-mail to bfchs@odh.ohio.gov.