Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries
Connecticut Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Project
Dental utilization for Medicaid/CHIP clients is impacted by multiple factors of which physical or geographic access in but one. Certainly, having physical access is a necessary condition for someone to get care, but it is not sufficient.
Our society as a whole does not value oral health highly, so we should expect that our clients would reflect that attitude. Addressing access to dental care is important, but do not neglect the other barriers.
Social determinants of health are also barriers to getting to a dentist. Medicaid/CHIP clients, and poor people in general face many daily obstacles to obtaining care. It is easy to prioritize food and shelter above oral health in your daily life, especially if oral health is not considered important anyway. So, consideration of social determinants of health should be considered.
In looking at dental care access for a population, remember, you don’t need all of the dentists in their geographic area, you only need enough. Consider what ratio of clients to dentists you want to achieve. One thousand clients to each dentist might be a point to start.
In our initial pilot of intensive community outreach for perinatal women, we attempted to get accurate client telephone numbers from the community agencies with whom we partnered. While this was a successful strategy in our small pilot, the logistics of doing that on a larger scale were overwhelming. We ultimately decided to stop that activity.
Convincing people that oral health is important is the major challenge. This includes policy makers, medical professionals, bureaucrats, clients and almost everyone. Overcoming this challenge is the focus of the entire project. Outreach and relationship building with these groups is based upon convincing them that oral health is important. The content of materials, the curriculum of training and presentations and outlines for relationship building interactions all include information and advocacy enhancing that point. The ‘Trusted Person’ model is based on the principal that we must first convince that person of the importance of oral health.
Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:
Marty Milkovic, MSW, Director, Connecticut Dental Health Partnership, 195 Scott Swamp Road, Farmington, CT, 06032, Phone: 860-507-2302, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh-Lynn Vitukinas, RDH, MSDH, Outreach Coordinator, 195 Scott Swamp Road, Farmington, CT, 06032, Phone: 860-507-2315, Email: email@example.com