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Rural Project Examples: Oral health

Effective Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathway
Updated/reviewed November 2020
  • 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.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • 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.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Smiles: Early Childhood Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed November 2020
  • 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 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

Smiles for Life
Updated/reviewed November 2020
  • 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 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 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
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration MORE Care
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • Need: To improve rural residents' oral healthcare.
  • Intervention: MORE Care creates interprofessional oral health networks to 1) better integrate oral health into primary healthcare and 2) coordinate oral health between primary and dental healthcare.
  • Results: MORE Care has led to increases in fluoride varnish administration, improvement in interprofessional communication, and patients' improved self-management of their daily oral health.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Something to Smile About: Preventive Dental Care for Garrett County
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • 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.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Delta Dental/Head Start Early Childhood Caries Prevention Project
Updated/reviewed June 2020
  • Need: To provide dental care to Head Start children on South Dakota reservations.
  • Intervention: The Early Childhood Caries (ECC) Prevention Project brings dental hygienists to tribal Head Start programs to provide dental care to children and oral health education to parents.
  • Results: In three years, 1,133 children and their parents completed an ECC visit. An additional 2,780 children received preventive care.
Disabled Adults Oral Health Initiative
Updated/reviewed May 2020
  • 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.