Oral Health Program Newsletter - Minnesota Department of Health

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New Dental Resource for School Nurses

ADA and NASN Launch Website
A recently launched website now provides easily accessible oral health information to school nurses. To create this new resource, the American Dental Association teamed up with the National Association of School Nurses in a project funded by the DentaQuest Foundation. Among other things, this Oral Health Connections website provides school nurses with oral health curricula, classroom teaching tools, and resources to help schoolchildren find access to dental care. It also allows school personnel to participate in an oral health forum and Facebook group that address oral health issues. More.


photo to represent the Bayport Drinking Water Protection

Bayport Municipal Water System Ensures Children Will Have Healthy Smiles!

Recently, staff from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Oral Health Program and Drinking Water Protection visited the municipal water system in Bayport, MN. Bayport is a recipient of a new grant program developed by MDH and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant program helps municipalities upgrade water fluoridation equipment. Municipal water suppliers monitor system performance, collect daily samples, and submit reports and results to MDH on a monthly basis. They also collect and submit quarterly duplicate samples to the MDH Public Health Laboratory. Samples are collected from distribution system locations that are representative of the entire drinking water system.

At optimal levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that community water fluoridation reduces childhood cavities by approximately 18 to 40 percent. Thank you, Bayport, for doing your part to help kids lead healthy lives free of dental disease!

Photo left to right: David Rindal (Drinking Water Protection Section); Patti Ulrich (Oral Health Program); and Tim Gardner (Water Operator)


photo of water glass

"Water Fluoridation: What the Science Says"

The Pew Center on the States has posted a web page called “Water Fluoridation: What the Science Says.” This web page features several respected public health officials, researchers and other experts sharing their views of CWF based on the considerable research that has been done Pew has given permission for state departments of health to link to this page. Pew suggests using the following sentence. “A number of researchers and health officials have publicly spoken about the scientific evidence supporting fluoridation.”


photo of smiling girl gradeschool student

North Carolina Study Links Poor Dental Health with Low Academic Performance

Added 12/7/11

Children with poor dental health were nearly three times more likely to miss school as a result of dental pain, reports a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health. In addition, this study found that children with poor oral health were at greater risk for low academic performance. Absences for routine care were not linked to unsatisfactory student outcomes, but absences caused by dental-related pain were associated with poor performance. The authors of the study theorized that children suffering from dental decay not only miss more days of school, but may also find it difficult to concentrate and perform well whether they're studying at home or at school. - Dental News & Views, A Monthly E-Memo from the Pew Children's Dental Campaign, November 2011


New Student Chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) at the University of Minnesota Dental School

-- Oral Health Unit invited to present at first meeting

Added 11/22/11

On Friday November 18th the new Student AAPHD Chapter at the University of Minnesota Dental School held its inaugural meeting. University faculty Dr. Naty Lopez, Dr. Paul Schulz Dr. Amos Deinard, and Dr. Bryan Michalowicz supported students committed to advancing dental public health in forming the new chapter--- one of eight in the nation. During the meeting Merry Jo Thoele and Charity Kreider gave a presentation entitled Viewing Oral Health through the Public Health Lens. They shared information with students about statewide dental public health activities and discussed opportunities for students to partner in public health projects including how to become involved in the Minnesota Oral Health Coalition.


photo of girl in wheelchair

National Center for Ease of Use of Community-Based Services Promotes Oral Health

Added 10/28/11

The National Center for Ease of Use of Community-Based Services (Center for Community-Based Services) addresses policy and practice strategies that improve the ease of use of community-based services for families with a child with a special health care need (CSHCN). The Center focuses on four domains of ease of use: universality, access, value, and affordability.

On Oct. 26, 2011 the Center presented a webinar: “Partnering to Make Oral Health Services Easier to Use for Families with CYSHCN.”

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, along with support from the Wisconsin Division of Public Health Oral Health Program, has made significant advances in promoting a comprehensive system of oral health care for CYSHCN.

To learn more about the unique aspects of this model, please feel free to view the archive recording of the presentation or view the PowerPoint slides by clicking on archive and/or slides. There is also a collection of selected resources on the website that include information on best practices, policy and capacity building, and caregiver guides available at:


image of state of minnesota with smiling people in background

Supporting Access to
Oral Health Care Across Minnesota

To provide background and substantial guidance on establishing collaborative agreements, we are launching a free course series for dental practitioners. Through a strategic partnership with the National Maternal & Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC) the Oral Health Unit has been able to promote this series at the national level! The OHRC supports health professionals, program administrators, educators, policymakers, and others in responding to current and emerging public oral health issues. To learn more visit the Resource Center website at http://www.mchoralhealth.org/.

Dental hygienists with a collaborative agreement can provide preventive care outside of traditional dental clinics in settings like schools, nursing homes and local public health departments–a key strategy to improving access to care for all Minnesotans.

Content experts who contributed to course development:
Bashar Bakdash, DDS, MPH, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Sarah Basile, RDH, MPH, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Colleen Brickle RDH, Ed.D, Normandale Community College
Jayne Cernohouse, DDS, Metro State University
Khatidja Dawood, MPH, Hennepin County Human Services & Public Health Department
Barbara Deming, Management Analysis and Development
Rebecca Fahning, RDH, Healthy Teeth Club
Catherine Furry, MA, University of Minnesota AHC Learning Commons Group
Clare Larkin, RDH, Normandale Community College
Naty Lopez, PhD, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Sheila Riggs, DDS, DMSc, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Bob Russell, DDS, MPH, Iowa Department of Public Health

photo of computer keyboard

New online course available! Oral Health from a Public Health Perspective - Course 1

This new course is one in a series of free courses offering dental practitioners background and guidance on establishing collaborative practice agreements in Minnesota, although anyone interested in direct access can learn from these courses. You can learn at your own pace and have access at any time.

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Understand oral disease prevention in the context of public health
  • Learn how to access and utilize public health data to improve your practice

Register today at http://www.mchoralhealth.org/mn/collaborative-practice/


photo of school aged kids

Using School-Based Programs to Improve Oral Health

The Brainerd area school nurses will meet on Friday, October 14th for a regional meeting, which includes Brainerd and surrounding counties. We are excited to be a part of the meeting. Oral Disease Prevention Unit Coordinator, Barbara Hann, will provide an in-depth presentation about the School-Based Dental Sealant Program and the 2010 Basic Screening Survey (BSS). This is an important opportunity to share valuable oral health information and collaborate with the school nurse community and promote evidence-based oral disease prevention strategies.


photo of dentist

Halloween Treats Can Play Tricks on Children's Teeth

1. Offer healthy alternatives to candy. Eating sweets causes damaging acids to form in the mouth. These acids continue to affect the teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized. Sugar-free gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol is effective in combating the bacteria in plaque and fighting the acid that eats away at enamel. The chewing motion also stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps cleanse the teeth. That makes sugar-free gum a smart choice to drop into Halloween bags.

2. Limit the amount of time that sugar is in contact with your child's teeth. When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars. When you get home from trick-or-treating, discard hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels or lollipops, as they increase the period of time in which teeth are exposed to sugar. Encourage your child to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

3. Teach your child to eat all foods in moderation. Although sweets are blamed for much tooth decay, all foods — even healthy alternatives to candy, such as fruit and nuts — can promote tooth decay if eaten in excess. Children (like adults) should eat all foods in moderation. Read nutrition labels to avoid foods and drinks loaded with sugar, fructose and other sweeteners.

4. Set up a candy bank. Allow your child to make daily withdrawals from the bank and monitor the progress. This way, you can control how much candy your child consumes.

  Information courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry


smiling 3rd grader

3M ESPE and Delta Dental Partner with the Minnesota School-based Dental Sealant Initiative to Launch Statewide Program

Minnesota’s Department of Health (MDH) School-based Dental Sealant Program, with the help of 3M ESPE and Delta Dental of Minnesota, will help stop tooth decay in its tracks and keep children in school and ready to learn.

MDH is pleased to announce plans for launching a state-wide School-based Dental Sealant Program targeting second graders. In collaboration with 3M ESPE and Delta Dental of Minnesota, the program is providing funding and in-kind donations to six school- and community-based programs in Minnesota.

The 3M ESPE Dental Division is helping to make this program possible by donating materials for over 7,000 dental sealants to be provided for at-risk children all over Minnesota.

In addition, Delta Dental of Minnesota is donating $15,000 to support metro and rural school-based sealant programs for uninsured children on behalf of its support of Oral Health America’s Smiles Across America program, including Smiles Across Minnesota.

For more information, contact: Patti Ulrich, Prevention Coordinator


image of state of Minnesota with A plus grade

Minnesota Improves
State Grade for Children’s Dental Health

Minnesota has jumped from a C to an A in its efforts to ensure dental health and provide access to dental care for children, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States.

“This improvement is good news for Minnesota children,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota commissioner of Health. “Ensuring good oral health for children is just as important as ensuring good physical and mental health.”

The report uses an A-F scale to grade states on how well they are employing eight proven policy solutions or benchmarks. Minnesota is one of seven states to receive an A for meeting six or more of the benchmarks. In the first report, issued last year, Minnesota received a C.

The two policy benchmarks that Minnesota improved on are the number of Medicaid enrolled children getting dental care and statewide efforts to collect data on children’s oral health status using the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors Basic Screening Survey.

“Dental insurance does not always translate into actual dental care, especially for low-income children,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “We are delighted to see significant improvement in the numbers of children receiving dental care.”

The number of Medicaid eligible children receiving a dental service increased four percentage points from 2007 to 2009 to 42.1 percent. While this is a positive step, according to Jesson, whose agency oversees the state Medicaid program, further improvement is needed to reach the national average of 58 percent for children with private insurance. Continued collaborative work between the state and other key organizations including the Minnesota Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Minnesota Dental Association, will be critical to continued progress, Jesson stated.

To meet the data tracking benchmark, the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Disease Prevention Program partnered in 2010 with the Minnesota Physical Activity and Nutrition Program and several volunteer dental hygienists to collect and submit data on oral health indicators for more than 2,000 Minnesota third-graders. The state is also making other efforts to improve children’s oral health. This year, two new levels of primary care dental providers created under 2009 legislation — dental therapists and advanced dental therapists — will enter the work force. In addition, school-based dental programs are being initiated and expanded to include dental sealants.

The Pew report is available at www.pewcenteronthestates.org/dental/makingcoveragematter.


OH Coalition logo

Coalition News

The Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Unit hosted a coalition meeting on June 17, 2011 to bring together stakeholders with an interest in oral health of residents of Minnesota. This meeting marked a historical transition in which coalition duties were transferred from the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Unit to the newly formed Interim Leadership Group.

The following individuals have been identified as members of the Interim Leadership Group. The nominations for the Interim Leadership Group were determined by volunteer forms that were submitted at the March 18, 2011 Minnesota Oral Health Coalition meeting and the 2011 Oral Health Summit. These individuals will serve a one year term and their positions will be open for nominations in year 2 (2012).

  • Patrick Jacobwith, President
    Practice Administrator
    Southern Heights Dental
  • Amos Deinard, Vice President
    University of Minnesota
  • Carl Ebert, Policy Committee Chair
    Community Dental Care
  • Deb Jacobi, Secretary/ Treasurer
    Apple Tree Dental
  • Sarah Wovcha, Membership/ Nominee Co-Chair
    Children’s Dental Services
  • Rebecca Fahning, Membership/ Nominee Co-Chair
    Collaborative Hygienist
    Healthy Teeth Club

To become a member of the Minnesota Oral Health Coalition, please complete a membership form at http://www.health.state.mn.us/oralhealth/pdfs/OHCmembershipform.pdf


Many Faces of Community Health logo

2011 Many Faces of Community Health Conference

Exploring ways to improve care, reduce health disparities in underserved populations and among those living in poverty.

2011 Many Faces of Community Health Conference "Building Blocks For Better Health"http://manyfacesconference.org/

The Sixth Annual Conference will take place October 27-28, 2011 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Registration is now open.

Today’s health care marketplace is marked by uncertainty and rapid change. Despite the continuing political debate on national health reform, industry changes and state-level reforms are forging ahead. Safety net providers need to focus on the "building blocks" to be ready for whatever the future holds. Conference Planning

Oral Health Director, Merry Jo Thoele, participates in planning the conference on the Clinical Content Advisory Committee. Please contact her at ph. 651/201-3749 or email merry.jo.thoele@state.mn.us to make suggestions about including oral health content at future conferences.

The Many Faces Conference brings together over 300 individuals. The audience consists of physicians, health care and oral health care professionals and students; community clinic management and staff; professionals from public health, social services, health plans and government; community health workers; policy makers; health activists and others involved in the community.

Many Faces of Community Health is jointly hosted by:
- Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers (MNACHC)
- Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
- Neighborhood Health Care Network (NHCN)

Many Faces of Community Health is supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Updated Monday, March 25, 2013 at 11:12AM