Northern Nevada Dental Health Program
Northern Nevada Dental Health Program has been in existence for about 16 years. The primary goal is to assure access to oral health care for children throughout northern Nevada . The heart of the program is the corps of volunteer dentists who have donated their time and talent to treat thousands of marginalized and at-risk children.
Highlights (2007 year-to-date):
- More than 120 dentists participated in 2007 some seeing as many as 70 children
- More than 430 children received care in nearly 1000 visits
- The total value of the pro bono care provided was nearly $250,000 (an additional $125,000 was billed to insurance)
- Decrease in reimbursement from Medicaid.
- The program has seen a 179% increase in the number of children treated on a pro bono basis from 2005 through 10/31/07
- When comparing like periods in 2006 and 2007 (January through October), the program saw a 132% increase in pro bono cases (the growth rate in the school district over the same period of time was 5.7%)
- As these trends continue and as the number of children who need care increases, the gap between expenses and revenue to cover the expenses increases.
- Some children have accessed the program on more than on one occasion because the behavior needed to ensure good nutrition and oral health has not changed.
- All families who are not covered by Nevada Medicaid or Nevada CheckUp must pay an access fee of $300.
- Families must attend an oral health/nutrition class prior to treatment and agree to have the child checked by a dentist 6 months post treatment.
- Not all families can afford the access fee. The program needs a fund to be able to support those who need emergent care.
Proposal / Solution
To create a pool of funds so that families who do not have the ability to pay the access fee can obtain services. This can be developed through individual donations, grants or special event fundraising.
According to “The Burden of Oral Disease in Nevada – 2006”:
- Good oral health is essential to overall health;
- Good oral health means being free of chronic oral pain, oral cancer, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate;
- Evidence suggests that infections of the mouth (such as gum disease) may:
- Increase the risk of heart disease,
- Put pregnant women at greater risk of premature delivery, and
- May complicate control of blood sugar for people living with diabetes.
- Changes in the mouth are often the first signs of problems elsewhere in the body, such as infectious disease, immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies and cancer.
- Seven out of ten (70%) of Nevada ’s third-grade students have tooth decay – compared with 50% of children aged six to eight across the country.
- Nearly twice as many adolescents in Nevada (31% vs. 16%) are suffering with untreated dental caries (tooth decay) than their national counterparts.
- Among third-grade children in Nevada , poorer children have more untreated dental decay (52% vs. 29%) and more caries experience (80% vs. 52%).
- Also, among Nevada ’s third grade students sampled, a significantly higher proportion of minority children had untreated decay in comparison to White Non-Hispanic children (78% vs. 61%).
- In Nevada fewer adults in our rural frontier communities (52%) have visited a dentist during the past year than in the urban communities of Clark County (66%) and Washoe County (70%).
- Only 51% of adult Nevadans from rural/frontier areas reported having any dental insurance coverage in comparison to 66% in the two urban counties.
- More adults residing in rural/frontier areas of Nevada also reported having had permanent teeth extracted due to decay or gum disease (49%) than in Clark County (45%) or Washoe County (42%).
- During 2005, approximately 6,431 patients were seen for basic dental services in the emergency rooms of Nevada ’s hospitals. The estimated total cost of these ER visits was $3,963,519.