News release: CDC awards Minnesota oral health grant

News Release
September 25, 2013

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CDC awards Minnesota oral health grant

Minnesota was one of 21 states awarded a “State Oral Disease Prevention Programs” grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this month.

The MDH Oral Health Program received a $310,000 annual grant and will use the funds to increase sealant rates among children, create a system for tracking oral health in Minnesota, and to conduct an educational campaign about oral health and how important the health of the mouth is to one’s overall health. The program is also focused on improving access to dental care for all Minnesotans, regardless of where they live or their racial and ethnic background.

The funding will help Minnesota implement the Minnesota Oral Health Plan: Advancing Optimal Oral Health for All Minnesotans – a statewide plan released in February. “This new grant funding cycle will allow Minnesota’s Oral Health Program to continue to strengthen our oral health system and to build the community partnerships required to carry out the vision of our statewide plan, which is to ensure optimal oral health for all Minnesotans,” says Merry Jo Thoele, MPH RDH, dental director at MDH.

Inadequate dental care has long-term health and cost consequences. In Minnesota between 2007 and 2010 there were $148 million in emergency department charges for preventable, non-traumatic conditions that could have been treated by a dental provider in a more appropriate setting, such as a dental clinic.

In addition, while tooth decay is nearly 100 percent preventable, it is still one of Minnesota’s most common chronic childhood diseases, with 55 percent of third graders surveyed in 2010 experiencing tooth decay, with low-income children bearing the greatest burden of oral diseases in the state.

In response to these challenges, Minnesota’s oral health plan calls for an increase in sealant use among children through school-based programs, particularly among children of color. The plan also calls for optimal levels of community water fluoridation and for the state to bolster its dental workforce through more innovative strategies to recruit, prepare, retain and equitably distribute oral health care providers throughout the state.

Minnesota was one of the states that have more advanced oral health programs that received grants from the CDC averaging $310,000 under Implementation of Evidence-based Community Preventive Interventions and Access to Clinical Preventive Services. The states that qualified for the higher level of funding are Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The grants are renewable for up to five years.

“With CDC support, the states receiving these awards will be better able to monitor their population’s oral health, identify priorities and target efforts, and expand activities aimed at preventing oral diseases among individuals, families, and communities,” stated Dr. William Bailey, DDS, MPH, acting director, CDC Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Three states—Hawaii, Idaho, and New Hampshire—have been awarded grants averaging $230,000 under the program’s entry-level component, Basic Capacity for Collective Impact.

For all states, the funding is designed to improve basic state oral health services, including support for program leadership and staff, monitoring oral disease levels and risk factors for oral disease, developing strong partnerships, educating state residents on ways to prevent oral diseases, and developing and evaluating prevention programs. States with more advanced programs also may work to increase delivery of dental sealants for children in low-income and/or rural schools, increase the proportion of the population with access to fluoridated water, increase the percentage of state residents who use the oral health care system, and increase the percentage of low-income children and adolescents who receive a preventive dental service.

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:

Media inquiries:
Scott Smith
MDH Communications