Posts Tagged ‘Public Policy’

Dartmouth Students Simple Design for Big Impact – Improving Oral Health during Pregnancy

Friday, June 1st, 2012

This year a group of Dartmouth College undergraduates including Lucas Yamamura, Karl Schutz, Melissa Saphier, Winnie Yoe, Hannah Kim worked with Tom Roberts and Good Beginnings to improve oral health for pregnant mothers.  They are part of the group Design for America (, a national organization from Chicago that has established studios at colleges in the US to use design thinking as a way to solve local social issues.  Lucas and his colleagues learned that gum disease is a common problem for pregnant women, and poor dental health is usually correlated to negative birth outcomes.  Brushing teeth twice a day is the recommendation of most dentists – a simple strategy for healthy teeth and gum.  In order to tackle this issue, the group asked the following question: How to encourage pregnant moms to promote their own oral health?  The group’s answer is a tooth brush holder in the form of a simple, low cost cup and lid that holds the brush.  The cup is decorated in honor of the coming baby and and can include a copy of the baby’s ultrasound or any other picture or drawing the mom and family apply. That way, they intend to elicit a personal connection between the parents and the upcoming child, reminding future mothers that brushing teeth is part of the  Not yet in production, but the group will be suggesting this idea to a group of pregnant moms for their input.  Great work and let’s hope it works.

A Personal Story: My Mouth My Body – Tracy, Lyme

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Tracy is 51 years old and lives in Lyme, New Hampshire. Here is her story:

“A number of years ago I fell while rollerblading.  I landed with my full weight on my chin, crushing 5 teeth.  Thankfully I did not break my jaw or get a concussion.  But my mouth was literally in shards.  I was taken to the emergency room at DHMC where they did stitch up the gash in my chin.  But they were unsure of the rest of my mouth.  There is an oral surgeon at Hitchcock but he was in surgery and could not see me.  So I was sent to my dentist who then referred me to an oral surgery center.  Two days later I was finally able to see the oral surgeon.  The teeth needed to be extricated and I then needed bone implanted to repair damage to make enough room for the process to begin replacing the lost teeth with implants.  The entire process took 3 years.  I now have most of the work completed but for a cracked tooth that will eventually need to be replaced.

Cost: Approximately $22,000.  Here is the rub.  According to my Health Insurance provider, all of it could/would have been covered had I had surgery within 24 hrs of the accident.  Which was impossible because there were no surgeons available.

Apparently one’s mouth is not considered to be a part of one’s body.

I am self-employed, and at the time was just barely able to pay for health insurance, let alone any dental.  I have since taken a job as a part time special education aide to receive medical and dental insurance.”

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

Vermont Town Meeting on Dental Care – March 10, 2012

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Join United States Senator Bernie Sanders for a Town Meeting on Dental Care.

Dental care is unaffordable for many Vermonters. This town meeting will be an opportunity for Vermonters to speak out about the issue and hear from Senator Sanders and Vermont officials about efforts to improve dental care access nationally and in Vermont.

10:30 am refreshments  | 11:00 am Meeting begins
Montpelier High School Cafeteria, Montpelier VT

The meeting is free and open to the public. RSVP is requested but not required. Contact Bernie Sanders’ office for more information: 1-800-339-9834

What Health Reform Means for Oral Health

Monday, September 27th, 2010

As the excitement surrounding President Obama’s historic health reform legislation begins to settle, plenty of questions remain about how our health care system will be changed. We’re particularly interested by how the new legislation will affect oral health care in this country.

The Maine Dental Access Coalition offers a great overview of the ways in which health reform is expected to impact oral health for Americans. Some of the highlights include:

-Insurance plans created for the uninsured through state exchanges will be required to provide pediatric oral health services and prevent any patient out of pocket expenses for preventive services.

-Rebates will be used to pay for dental services provided through Medicare Advantage plans.

-Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission must create a report for Congress summarizing reimbursements to dental professionals for services rendered through these programs.

-Grants for school health centers to provide oral health services.

-Establishment of a 5 year oral health campaign which will focus on advocacy and education for the prevention of childhood caries and oral health care for pregnant women and other vulnerable populations.

-All states, territories and Indian tribes will receive funding for school-based sealant programs. This marks a fundamental change in policy since there are currently only 16 states receiving federal funding for these types of programs.

-The CDC will bolster its relationship with all states and territories to create a comprehensive oral health infrastructure to include continuous data collection, interpretation, delivery system improvements and science-based population programs

-Oral health reporting for pregnant women through Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) will become mandatory (currently this reporting is optional).

-All states must participate in the CDC’s National Oral Health Surveillance System (only 16 states currently participate).

-A 5 year, $4 million 15 site demonstration project will be launched to train “alternative dental health care providers”

-Support will be provided for training general, pediatric and public health dental professionals and the establishment of a dental faculty loan repayment program for faculty engaged in public health and primary care dentistry.

Visit the Maine Dental Access Coalition’s Public Policy page for a full description of how health reform will impact oral health care.

Vanessa Hurley