Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries
Children's Dental Services
Children's Dental Services (CDS) is an independent, non-profit agency that, since 1919, has dedicated itself to improving the oral health of low-income children by making affordable and culturally-targeted dental care and education available. There continues to be a lack of dental providers who will see uninsured and publicly insured patients across Minnesota, which has led to a crisis in access to dental care for low-income families. CDS’ innovative history began at its inception when it was the first dental program in Minnesota to target free care to orphaned children with no health care safety net. This tradition was recognized by the Minnesota community when it awarded CDS the 2006 Mission Innovations Award recipient from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. CDS’ clinical staff on-site includes dentists, hygienists, advanced dental therapists, dental therapists, and dental assistants along with administrative staff including MNSure Navigators, public health assistants, billing specialists and receptionists.
CDS’ innovative approaches include its site-based care within public schools and Head Start centers, its leadership in implementing teledentistry, and the effective use of mid-level providers in both permanent and portable care locations. CDS follows an evidence-based, public health model in its provision of care, utilizing its resources efficiently by adhering to strict controls, and by providing high quality, necessary care (i.e., non-cosmetic) to as many patients as possible. CDS provides care with 80 professional clinicians and more than 35 interns at any given time every weekday, two evenings per week, and every Saturday. This is in contrast to many providers, who treat on select days each month, only in certain regions. CDS serves children from birth until the age of 26 and pregnant women. CDS accepts all forms of insurance and offers a sliding fee scale and free care.
CDS has found that strong collaborations with community partners and schools are essential to reducing the need for emergency dental care. By actively providing preventive services, screenings, and offering onsite dental care within public schools, Head Start centers, and community resource buildings, CDS is able to establish accessible dental homes for families that would otherwise wait to address dental concerns until the pain required immediate attention.
One challenge that CDS has faced is that of easily extracting data from its electronic health records, dental software. CDS has had to work closely with the software to set up the kind of queries it needs to successfully run reports that extract specific and accurate data. This continues to be a work in progress but CDS now has an established relationship with its dental software company’s technical service and they have been really flexible with setting up reporting mechanisms that match CDS’ needs
Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:
Sarah Wovcha, JD, MPH, Executive Director, Children’s Dental Services, 636 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis, MN, 55413, Phone: 612-746-1530 ext. 204,
Erianna Reyelts, Senior Manager, Children's Dental Services, 636 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413, Phone: 612-746-1530 ext 207, Fax: 612-746-1531