Youth in the juvenile correctional system are a high-risk population who, in many cases, have unmet dental health needs. Multiple studies have found that poor dental health issues occur at higher rates than in the general adolescent population. Although some youth in the juvenile justice system have interfaced with dental health care providers in their community on a regular basis, others have had inconsistent or nonexistent care. The dental health needs of these youth are commonly identified when they are admitted to a juvenile custodial facility.

The preponderance of dental needs was documented in a long-term study in a detention center in New York, in which almost all of the youth (90%) required dental care. A more recent study of youth in a juvenile detention center in Dallas County, Texas, found that among a random sampling of 419 dental screenings of 12 to 17 year olds, half of them had untreated decay and fewer than one-fifth had preventive sealants. High-urgency dental problems — defined as infection, tooth or jaw fracture, pulpitis, or severe periodontal disease with bleeding — were found in 6.2% of the subjects.

Mira’s ability to provide care in non-traditional settings utilizing innovative practices has made it the primary provider of dental care in juvenile justice facilities for the State of New Mexico and Bernalillo County. Mira currently treats residents of the following facilities:

“We believe that all New Mexicans should have the opportunity to attain their full health potential. No one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their socio-economic position or racial/ethnic origins. As stakeholders, we affirm that oral health is essential to general health and well-being and are dedicated to increasing access to care for all citizens.”