CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Dental Association (WyDA) is applauding the state legislature’s decision to conduct the first comprehensive oral health care study of state residents in 20 years.
According to oral health care professionals and State Department of Health officials, the epidemiological study will answer basic oral health care questions critical for improved treatment and prevention and more cost savings to the state over the long-term. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
The Department of Health’s study costs were cut significantly, and in a unique partnership, Wyoming dentists will donate the materials for the study and man-hours.
Wyoming Dental Association (WyDA) President Dr. Carol Hungerford said, “I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that this study will eventually improve Wyoming’s oral health care policy as well as the actual overall health of Wyoming people, and even save lives.”
The Oral Health Initiative, SF 93 sponsored by Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, passed the House on third reading Tuesday 44-16. The Wyoming Senate approved the bill Feb. 9.
“The Wyoming Legislature, and in particular Senator Landen, deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their commitment to gathering this important oral health data by passing this bill,” Hunderford said.
Dr. Grant Christensen of the State Department of Health has said that such a study is needed and would be of strategic help for more effective oral health care delivery.
Key questions that will be asked in the comprehensive study include:
- Who geographically and demographically is accessing dental care in Wyoming, and who is not?
- Who has dental disease and where do they live?
- Which Wyoming towns/counties/communities are using fluoridation and for how long? How does that fluoridation map overlay with the dental disease map?
The data collected will enable policymakers and the WyDA to develop cost-effective strategies to address specific areas of need for the citizens of Wyoming. An appropriation of $50,000 funded by the Tobacco Settlement Fund for the epidemiological survey is included. The Department of Health will conduct the study using donated supplies by the Wyoming Dental Association.