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Rural Project Examples: Oral health

Effective Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathways
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To address the oral health needs of low-income uninsured and underinsured residents in rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: An oral health education program was implemented in Appalachian Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • Results: This program has increased oral health visits in the area and has provided residents with valuable information on oral health resources and services.
Calhoun County Community Dental Access Initiative
Updated/reviewed August 2016
  • Need: Poor and uninsured residents of Calhoun County, Michigan were in need of dental services but lacked the funds to pay on their own.
  • Intervention: The Community Dental Access Initiative created a "pay it forward" dental program where patients volunteered in their community in exchange for dental services and oral health education.
  • Results: Treatment worth nearly $1,100,000 has been provided to residents, the community has seen a decrease in dental-related emergency room visits, and over 98,000 volunteer community service hours have been provided by patients.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Smiles: Early Childhood Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: To decrease the number of children entering kindergarten with untreated tooth decay in the rural Appalachian counties of Rutherford, Polk, and McDowell in western North Carolina.
  • Intervention: A program to give children a dental home that included screenings, targeted outreach, and restorative services.
  • Results: An overall decrease within the service area of children entering kindergarten with sub-par oral health.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: To connect low-income people in rural northwest Minnesota to dental care and support services in order to address barriers to care.
  • Intervention: Partners work together to provide patient transportation, care coordination, and insurance navigation and enrollment.
  • Results: Patients accessing support services are more likely to complete dental treatment. Over 1,000 people a year have been assisted with Medicaid enrollment, and reported use of the emergency department for dental pain has been reduced.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy School-Based Health Center Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed December 2016
  • Need: To improve the oral health status of children ages 3 to 13 living in underserved rural areas of Louisiana.
  • Intervention: Students enrolled in school-based health centers receive oral health assessments as part of their comprehensive physical exams.
  • Results: During the 2012-2015 grant period, SBHCs provided 2,136 fluoride varnishes and 2,273 caries risk assessments and identified 715 dental homes for children. In year one of the 2015-2018 grant, SBHCs provided 938 fluoride varnishes.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Miles for Smiles Mobile Dental Unit
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: Dental care access for children in low-income families living in a 7-county region of southwest Missouri.
  • Intervention: A mobile dental unit was created to expand dental care access.
  • Results: The Miles for Smiles mobile dental clinic provides comprehensive dental care to children throughout the 7-county region
Capitol Dental Care's Virtual Dental Homes
Added November 2017
  • Need: Dentists in Polk County, Oregon who accepted Oregon Health Plan were booked out for months, causing patients with dental needs to have to wait for an appointment or travel to an adjoining county for dental care.
  • Intervention: Capitol Dental Care began a Virtual Dental Home teledentistry model to bring preventive dental care to 3 elementary schools and several Head Start programs.
  • Results: Through this program, over 700 students have received dental care in their schools.
Smiles for Life
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Oral healthcare for low-income adults and children unable to obtain dental care in the Mid-Ohio Valley of West Virginia.
  • Intervention: Public health dental hygienists act as gatekeepers, screening low-income clients and placing them with area dental providers who volunteer, from their private practices, to provide most-needed dental treatment.
  • Results: Reduces the number of emergency department visits for dental pain and infections and provides a safety net for those unable to afford dental treatment.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy West Central Dental Clinic
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: The West Central District Health Department discovered unmet dental care needs for low-income residents.
  • Intervention: A dental clinic was formed to serve low-income residents in the rural areas of Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson counties in Nebraska.
  • Results: The permanent clinic opened in 2006 and has served 24,000 patients as of 2016.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Medical-Legal Partnership
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: To help low-income patients in rural Minnesota overcome legal barriers to oral healthcare and self-sufficiency.
  • Intervention: The medical-legal partnership of Northern Dental Access Center and Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota provides free consultations and support services.
  • Results: The innovative and collaborative approach has been recognized regionally and nationally, and over 9,000 new patients have been screened for legal issues.