Oral Health Partnership (OHP) operates with the basic idea that all kids deserve quality dental care. In 2005, the Green Bay Rotary discovered that a large number of kids were going to emergency rooms with dental pain and infections. Many of these kids, being uninsured or underinsured, did not have options for dental care, so issues that could have been caught at routine dental visits were put on hold until kids were in serious pain.
The Rotary started “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids,” a mobile, in-school dental clinic to help meet this need. By providing dental care right at schools, barriers to care including transportation and challenging schedules disappeared.
In 2007, the Oral Health Partnership grew out of this program and our first clinic opened at the Howe Community Resource Center, which is still open today. We are a non-profit with the mission of changing the lives of our communities’ children through access to excellent oral health services and education. We work with kids from birth to 19-years-old who are uninsured or on BadgerCare/Medicaid and treat nearly 10,000 kids a year through almost 20,000 appointments in our clinics, hospital services, or school-based program. Though our focus is Brown County, we don’t turn kids away that need care!
We’ve grown a bit since the first idea of serving a need in 2005. But unfortunately, the need is still there.
Impact of COVID on OHP
Like many non-profits, and pretty much everybody everywhere, the way we work was altered by COVID. The largest change has been that our school-based program essentially shut down for the 2020-2021 school year. We are now back in some schools but face delayed services because of COVID outbreaks and staffing shortages. For some kids, not being seen at school means they don’t get seen at all.
Another difficulty from COVID has been working with our more serious cases in a hospital setting. Our partners HSHS St. Clare and Bellin Health give us hospital time where our specially trained team can treat patients under general anesthesia. For kids with severe decay, or behavioral or physical concerns multiple clinic visits can be difficult to endure. In the hospital, their treatment can be completed in a single appointment.
Because of people delaying routine care, and hospitals needing to reduce the time available for outside needs because of COVID, our waiting list for hospital care has grown from 66 kids in January 2020 to 247 kids today.
COVID has reinforced OHP’s need in the community and we are up to the challenge! This year we are opening our fifth clinic, lining up resources in the hopes that our school-based program will be back to full capacity in the fall, and working with hospitals for more operating room time. We keep moving forward to get closer and closer to reaching every child in Brown County that needs our services!
February is Children’s Dental Health Month: Healthy Smile Tips for Parents from OHP
The second part of OHP’s mission focuses on education. And February is an awesome month to highlight some healthy tooth tips for parents to help keep their kids smiling for years to come!
- Brush twice a day for two minutes. The easiest way to hit the two-minute mark is to use a toothbrushing timer or find a song that can be used as a timer.
- Toddler tip: Start young with your kids! If they have teeth, they need to be brushed (and flossed!) It could be a family task where everyone brushes at the same time, or if you are feeling brave, let them brush your teeth!
- Don’t forget the floss! Once two teeth touch they should be flossed. Make this part of your kid’s bedtime routine early on and it will become a habit.
- Healthy diets create healthy teeth. Fruits and veggies are very important, as is reducing the amount of sugar your kids eat and drink. Sugar can sit on their teeth and encourage the bacteria that causes tooth decay. It’s good to keep snacking to a minimum. It’s common for kids to eat three main meals and three snacks a day. Between eating, stick to water. Water rinses your mouth and can wash away food and bacteria.
- Toddler tip: Don’t send kids to bed with a bottle! And if you do, make sure it’s water once they are old enough to be drinking water regularly, avoid milk or juice.
- Have your kids visit the dentist every six months. Routine dental exams can help find issues before they become big problems.
- Toddler tip: Once your kids have teeth, they can get tooth decay. Your child’s first dental visit should be after you see their first tooth, or before their first birthday.
- Ask about sealants. These are thin coatings applied to your child’s teeth that can help prevent cavities for years. Dental sealants can prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 out of 10 cavities occur. See if your dentist thinks sealants are right for your child.
Routine dental care and good habits can go a long way to keeping smiles healthy!
Interested in learning more or supporting OHP? Visit smilegb.org.
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