Grantmaking in the area of oral health includes:
- Periodic prevalence of disease assessments;
- Investment in developing local points of access to comprehensive oral health services;
- Increasing community awareness of oral health and its vital role in one’s overall health and productivity;
- Training of non-dental professionals on the role they can play in improving oral health in the populations they serve;
- Advocacy of policy and regulatory changes which improve access to quality comprehensive oral healthcare.
Oral health is an important component, and often a determinant, of an individual’s overall health status. According to the Executive Summary of the Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General released in 2000:
“Oral diseases are progressive and cumulative and become more complex over time. They can affect our ability to eat, the foods we choose, how we look, and the way we communicate. These diseases can affect economic productivity and compromise our ability to work at home, at school, or on the job. Health disparities exist across population groups at all ages. Over one third of the U.S. population (100 million) has no access to community water fluoridation. Over 108 million children and adults lack dental insurance, which is over 2.5 times the number who lack medical insurance.”
The Foundation conducted an oral health prevalence study on 319 3rd grader youth (66% of all 3rd graders in our area) in 2006 in order to obtain actual baseline information on the oral health of our youth. The study found that 36% had at least one filling, 34% of the youth screened had evidence of cavities, of these 9% had severe decay, and 61% of those screened had no evidence of sealants on their 6 year molars – a recommended prevention practice. Poor oral health hygiene was strongly associated with decayed teeth but not with those who had fillings.
In response, the Foundation has piloted a multi-year in-school prevention program in the Region# 1 School District in CT and the Taconic Hills School District in NY. Both schools now offer free screening and cleanings and Taconic Hills also offers treatment services. The grantees providing the services are Maria Seymour Brooker Memorial Foundation in Connecticut and the Columbia County Healthcare Consortium in New York.
The Foundation has also provided two years of operating funds for a mobile dental clinic in Amenia run by Hudson River Healthcare and invested in the construction of a dental lab in the new facilities of the Health and Wellness Clinic of greater Torrington.
The Foundation has also funded the Coalition for Oral Health Initiative to provide education and support to area dentists who may be considering becoming Medicaid providers under the new Medicaid Dental program.
Read the Oral Issue Brief: Oral Health Screenings of 3rd Grade Students in Selected Schools in New York and Connecticut Released 2007
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