In the wake of a dental crisis in Clark County, local organizations want to improve dental health throughout the community.
More than 32 percent of Clark County residents have had between one and five permanent teeth removed because of tooth decay or gum disease, according to the most recent Community Health Assessment completed in 2016.
Around that time, the Community Health Foundation had studied several projects that would have an impact on the community. They ultimately decided to pursue improving oral health, Program Coordinator Joan Elder said.
“We just didn’t see any other organizations stepping up to raise awareness about oral health,” she said.
The foundation formed an oral health coalition, which includes dentists, hygienists and other health professionals, she said. Oral health was one of the areas identified by the Community Health Foundation as a chronic disease that wasn’t being addressed, she said.
The foundation also recently announced its support of putting fluoride in the water in Springfield and New Carlisle, she said.
Later this year, the foundation will host its annual Give Kids a Smile event as part of a minority health fair on April 28 at Kenwood Elementary School, she said.
The Rocking Horse Community Health Center also recently opened the Chakeres Family Dental Clinic to improve children’s dental care, Elder said.
“It increases access in our community,” she said.
Mercy Health recently received a $35,000 grant from the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio to improve dental health education for both employees and providers, said Brooke Martinez, the supervisor of community outreach in Springfield.
As part of the grant, the hospital is hosting several one-hour lunch-and-learn sessions at different non-oral health providers to talk about the importance of dental health and how to communicate that with patients, she said. The program will be continuing through mid-May, Martinez said.
The hospital also will host a more detailed session that will teach health professionals how to motivate patients to improve health, she said.
“The goal is to get all newborns in the county to see a dental provider by the time they’re 1,” Martinez said.
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