Clark County program takes on oral health

Having a nice smile is just part of why good oral health is as an important, yet sometimes neglected part, of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Springfield was recently the center of a gathering of several professionals focused on improving oral health, which affects much of the state, including Clark County.

Community Health Foundation’s (CHF) next Break for Health program, “Behind the Smile: A closer look at overall health and wellness” will explore some of the findings of the event and information on how to combat the issue in a free webinar at noon Thursday.

The webinar will feature guest presenter Dr. Alice Horowitz of the University of Maryland, who will share ways to improve oral health literacy, access and integration with other systems.

Visiting the dentist isn’t one of the most anticipated activities for many people, but when dental health is neglected, it can become a bigger problem according to Joan Elder, CHF’s program coordinator.

“Dental health matters because it’s related to other chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and osteoporosis,” she said. “Dental pain can cause absences from work and school, trouble eating, sleeping or concentrating, and is an indicator of an infection that can cross into the blood system.”

With Clark County and Hamilton County being the only two counties in Ohio to have oral health coalitions, Springfield was the choice for the Oral Health Ohio Symposium on Nov. 4 at the Courtyard by Marriott, with CHF as the local liaison. The event gathered about 150 professionals from fields including early childhood educators, mental health, social services and pediatricians.

The symposium theme was oral health equity and integration across the lifespan. Topics include the causes of oral health inequities, initiatives to enhance oral health in marginalized communities and how integration of care can help close disparity gaps in Ohio.

CHF had a particular interest in the subject, helping invest more than $300,000 to support the Rocking Horse Center’s Chakeres Dental Center.

Elder said the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings showed Clark County has a professional dental shortage area with one dentist for every 1,700 patients with the state average of one dentist for every 1,500 patients.

Also, the last reported Ohio Department of Health survey of third grade students, done from 2013-2015, found Clark County tied with three other counties as having the worst rate of dental disease among children.

“Invest an hour of your time to better understand the importance of maintaining all of your health including dental health,” Elder said.

Pre-register at or call 937-523-7007. The Break for Health series will continue with new topics in 2023.

About the Author