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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 School-Based Health Center Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed July 2019
  • 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.
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.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Something to Smile About: Preventive Dental Care for Garrett County
Updated/reviewed July 2019
  • 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
Added May 2019
  • 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 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.