Rural Project Examples: Oral health
Regional Oral Health Pathway
Updated/reviewed August 2023
- 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 increased oral health visits in the area and provided residents with valuable information on oral health resources and services.
Healthy Smiles: Early Childhood Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed November 2022
- 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.
School-Based Health Center Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed July 2020
- Need: To improve the oral health status of children ages 3 to 17 living in underserved rural areas of Louisiana.
- Intervention: School-based nurse practitioners perform oral health assessments, apply fluoride varnishes when indicated, and make dental referrals, with completion rates of the latter tracked by dental case managers.
- Results: Significant numbers of school children are receiving oral health examinations, fluoride varnish applications, and receiving care coordination to improve numbers of completed dental appointments.
Other Project Examples
Delta Dental Mobile Program
Updated/reviewed March 2023
- Need: Lack of access to oral healthcare for children from limited-income families in the rural and urban areas of South Dakota.
- Intervention: Delta Dental of South Dakota launched the Delta Dental Mobile Program in 2004 to expand access to oral healthcare services to children throughout the rural state.
- Results: The Delta Dental Mobile Program has provided over $38 million in dental care to more than 68,000 South Dakota children.
Disabled Adults Oral Health Initiative
Updated/reviewed April 2022
- Need: To help rural Maryland adults with disabilities learn more about oral health and access care.
- Intervention: Health Right community health workers gave educational presentations at agencies serving those with disabilities.
- Results: From March 2014 to February 2016, educational presentations reached 1,084 adults with disabilities and 344 staff and caregivers, and 256 people received dental treatment.
Something to Smile About: Preventive Dental Care for Garrett County
Updated/reviewed July 2021
- Need: In rural Garrett County, Maryland, a 1998 community survey found that 41% of kindergarten students had untreated dental decay, and many dentists in the area were not willing to see patients with medical assistance or state health insurance plans.
- Intervention: In 1999, the Garrett County Health Department started the Something to Smile About program to improve access to dental care and help dentists negotiate higher reimbursement rates from managed care organizations.
- Results: The program established a community dental clinic, provided care to thousands of individuals, and negotiated 30% higher rates for dental service reimbursement.
Miles for Smiles Mobile Dental Unit
Updated/reviewed September 2020
- 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.
Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE)
Updated/reviewed February 2020
- Need: Address oral health disparities in Washington's rural and underserved communities.
- Intervention: The University of Washington School of Dentistry developed the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program preparing dentists for practice in rural and underserved areas.
- Results: As of 2019, 77% of all RIDE graduates are practicing in Washington state. Of those, 82% are practicing in rural and underserved communities.
Cavity Free at Three
Updated/reviewed December 2019
- Need: In Colorado, 31% of children have experienced dental decay by the time they reach kindergarten. With several frontier and rural counties in Colorado considered dental deserts, options for oral healthcare are limited.
- Intervention: Cavity Free at Three (CF3) works to improve access to preventive oral health for pregnant women and young children. While CF3 is a statewide effort, 87% of the program's target counties are considered rural or frontier.
- Results: CF3 has trained over 5,000 medical and dental professionals in performing preventive dental health. The percentage of children who received oral healthcare from a medical or dental provider before the age of 2 has progressively increased, and fewer Colorado children have cavities now than they did 10 years ago.
For examples from other sources, see: