Dental Care

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about the Institute for Public Health? We’d love to hear from you.

Dental Care

Oral health, or the health of your mouth, gums and teeth, can affect your ability to eat, speak and even show emotion. Good oral health can raise self-esteem, school performance and attendance at work or school.

Poor oral health can impact confidence and a person’s ability to make a good first impression, like in a job interview. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, 1 in 3 people with low income report poor dental hygiene as a barrier to interview for a job.

Oral health conditions are easily preventable with proper brushing and dental hygiene.

What Is a Cavity?

Cavities are caused by tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and create acid as a result. This acid can eat away at the hard outer layer (enamel) on the teeth. Eventually, it eats at the inner layers of the teeth, and if untreated, can affect the roots and nerves at the base of the tooth.

The most common oral health conditions are:

How to Brush Properly to Avoid Cavities

Tooth decay is easily preventable with regular brushing and flossing. Here are some tips:

  • Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes
  • Use fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss between the teeth at least once a day
  • Visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and fluoride varnish

Dental Care for Babies & Toddlers

Oral health is important for babies and toddlers, too. Here are some tips for parents:

  • Clean baby’s gums and mouth before any teeth come in
  • After each feeding and before bedtime, use water and a cloth to wipe away milk or formula
  • Schedule a visit with a dentist after baby’s first tooth comes in
  • From the ages of 1 to 3 years:
    • Children can use a soft bristled brush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice)
    • Brush after meals and before bed
    • Visit their dentist every six months for cleanings and fluoride varnish
  • Try to make brushing fun to encourage children to keep up oral health as they age

Prevent Oral Diseases

You may be able to lower your risk for oral conditions by:

  • Quitting smoking if you smoke
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating a well-balanced diet low in added sugars and high in fruits and vegetables
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Risk Factors for Oral Health Disease

You may have a higher risk of oral health disease if you:

  • Use tobacco
  • Consume alcohol excessively
  • Eat a diet high in sugar
  • Have diabetes
  • Have special health needs
  • Wear braces, orthodontics or oral appliances

Oral Hygiene & Overall Health

Maintaining oral hygiene can help prevent many other conditions, including:

  • Heart and vascular disease
  • Some cancers
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy complications

Tooth Decay in Texas Children

According to 2017–2018 data from the Texas Oral Health Basic Screening Survey of the Texas Department of State Health Services:

  • Two-thirds of Texas third graders have had at least one cavity.
  • 1 in 6 Texas third graders has untreated tooth decay, which can lead to dangerous infections.
  • 53% of kindergarteners have had a cavity.
  • Tooth decay in kindergarten is more common in low-income families, Hispanic children and Black children.

Research shows children with recent dental pain are nearly three times more likely to be absent from school and almost four times more likely to have lower grades. Having healthy teeth is important for Texas children to do well in school.

Oral Health Resources in Bexar County

Dental visits and cleanings can be expensive and may not be included in your health insurance coverage. Explore these resources for accessible dental care.

Medicare Advantage plans

Many Medicare Advantage plans for seniors now include dental coverage

Medicaid or CHIP

Medicaid and CHIP covers dental services for those that qualify.

Title V

If your child does not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, they may qualify for Title V. Children 6 months to 17 years of age may qualify for the Title B financial dental assistance based on the Federal Poverty Income Guideline. Qualification is based on household income and number of family members.

Miles of Smiles

Miles of Smiles is a San Antonio Metropolitan Health District program that provides oral evaluations, fluoride and sealants at select Bexar County elementary schools. Contact the Dental Services Miles of Smiles Liaison to see if your child’s elementary school participates in this program.

UT Health School of Dentistry

The UT Health School of Dentistry provides dental services to those who have been referred by a physician or another dentist. They provide a range of services including:

  • Oral surgery
  • Crowns
  • Root canals
  • Routine cleanings
  • Veneers
  • Dentures
  • Wisdom tooth removal

Because these services are often provided by supervised dental students, the out-of-pocket costs are more affordable than at other clinics.

San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic

San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic provides dental services for San Antonio residents experiencing homelessness and those who are low-income or otherwise can’t afford dental care. This clinic provides free dental care primarily by volunteer providers.


Communicare provides affordable dental services for adults and children.

Texas Tooth Steps Program

Texas Tooth Steps is an oral health program for mothers and babies funded by the Texas Oral Health Coalition. This program helps mothers understand the importance of oral health during their pregnancy, and how to care for their baby’s teeth and gums.

Dixon Health and Wellness Center

The Dixon Health and Wellness Center provides affordable dental care in San Antonio. Patients must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for service. Payment is determined on a sliding scale based on patients’ income level, family size and ability to pay.