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Rural Project Examples: Oral health

Effective Examples

Calhoun County Community Dental Access Initiative
Updated/reviewed August 2018
  • 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.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathway
Updated/reviewed August 2018
  • 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.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • 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 Healthy Smiles: Early Childhood Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed October 2018
  • 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 January 2018
  • Need: To improve the oral health 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, fluoride varnishes, and dental referrals as part of a comprehensive physical exam by nurse practitioners.
  • Results: Results from the two most recent grant periods (2015-2016 and 2016-2017) included: 4,000 oral health exams, over 3,000 fluoride varnish applications, and 1500 dental referrals; the last great year seeing 68% of referrals completed, an 11% increase over the prior year.

Other Project Examples

Disabled Adults Oral Health Initiative
Updated/reviewed April 2019
  • 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.
Delta Dental Mobile Program
Updated/reviewed February 2019
  • 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 $26 million in dental care to more than 52,000 South Dakota children.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Medical-Legal Partnership
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • 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.
Capitol Dental Care's Virtual Dental Homes
Updated/reviewed November 2018
  • 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 2018
  • 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.