Objectives: In 2016, 64% of Nebraska’s children had a history of dental decay and 32% had untreated decay. Rural children had higher decay rates and less preventive care than urban children. Over 250,000 older adults have unmet dental needs. This program‘s objective was to mobilize existing oral health workforce to create “community-based dental disease prevention teams” and increase access to preventive care for young children and older adults from dental shortage areas.
Methods: Trained inter-professional teams (Public Health Dental Hygienists and Community Health Workers) provided educational, preventive, and referral services. Seven Local Health Departments (LHDs) established these programs in children’s centers, schools and long-term care and assisted living facilities by using portable hygiene delivery systems.
Results: Screenings, oral health education, dental cleanings, fluoride varnish and dental sealants were delivered to over 90 rural sites. The program evaluator is adjusting numbers; however, a total of 3,802 participants received preventive dental services. 2,576 children were identified with ‘No Obvious Problems’, 763 needed ‘Early Dental Care’, and 330 needed ‘Urgent Dental Referral’. Tables and charts in the presentation will address the program’s sustainability, the accomplishments and barriers/challenges experienced, and the results of a survey of stakeholder organizations (sites).
Conclusions: This unique approach to improve preventive dental care for Nebraska’s most vulnerable population groups will enhance stakeholder partnerships; positively impact the oral health status of rural residents; and provide lessons to other states. The screening results, monitored oral health indicators, and evaluations will be used to improve the program and state’s oral health surveillance.