The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received a grant totaling $1.8 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help improve the oral health of Iowa’s children and adults who are most at risk for oral diseases like tooth decay. The funding will be used to enhance and coordinate I-Smile partnerships, expand school-based dental sealant programs, and build capacity to prioritize, monitor, and evaluate state dental public health initiatives.
Iowa is one of 18 states that received funding based on a more advanced oral health program that had achieved certain milestones. “This funding will help enable IDPH to better identify priorities and target efforts, and expand activities aimed at preventing oral diseases among individuals, families, and communities,” said IDPH Dental Director, Dr. Bob Russell.
The IDPH I-Smile Dental Home Initiative helps Iowa’s children connect with dental services, using a team approach. The dental home team includes dentists who provide treatment and definitive evaluation. Other health professionals such as dental hygienists, physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physician assistants, and dietitians are a part of a larger network and can provide oral screenings, education, guidance, and preventive services as needed. Since I-Smile began, 62 percent more low-income Iowa children have received dental services.
Another part of the I-Smile initiative is the school-based dental sealant program, in which a plastic material is applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to protect them from germs and food that can cause cavities. Last year, IDPH sealant programs applied dental sealants to more than 4,500 low-income children.
The CDC oral health program seeks to improve the oral health of communities by extending the use of proven strategies to prevent oral diseases, enhancing monitoring of oral diseases, strengthening the nation’s oral health capacity, and guiding infection control in dentistry. For more information on oral health, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/. For more information on the IDPH I-Smile initiative, visit www.ismiledentalhome.iowa.gov.