Fluoride Action Network

Sonoma County: Dental care called a health care crisis

Source: The Press Democrat | June 16th, 2011 | By Martin Espinoza


According to a study by the Sonoma County Task Force on Oral Health, yet to be formally released to the public:

— In 2010, there were only 15 dentists for 109,000 low-income residents in Sonoma County — a fraction of the pool available to those with private insurance.

— In 2009, 52 percent of the county’s third-graders had a history of tooth decay, exceeding the state average.

— The county’s impoverished third-graders are more than twice as likely to suffer from untreated tooth decay as children from more affluent families.

The report is expected to be reviewed by the county Board of Supervisors next month.

Located adjacent to the Windsor Golf Club on 19th Hole Drive, the non-profit surgery center is the last line of defense for thousands of low-income children in the North Coast who have little access to routine dental care…


Finding solutions

The Sonoma County Task Force on Oral Health, which met between January and May, seeks solutions that could be implemented within three years. Issues such as fluoridation of the county water system and augmenting dental insurance coverage were not considered because such efforts could not be achieved within that time frame or because it was beyond local control.

The following are among the recommendations that will go before the Board of Supervisors in July:

— Expand access to care in Santa Rosa and other high-need communities by adding new clinical capacity. Examples are local community health centers, Women, Infant, Children (WIC) nutrition programs, private dental offices, Santa Rosa Junior College Dental Hygiene Clinic, and St. Joseph Health System’s mobile dental clinic.

— Strengthen oral health assessment, education and preventive care in primary care visits and fully integrate dental professionals within the medical home model.

— Develop and integrate a comprehensive oral health promotion program, to include prevention, assessment, treatment, referral and case management, into the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP) for pregnant women at all CPSP service delivery sites.

— Expand the use of Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice, or RDHAP, and other appropriate, trained personnel to deliver cost effective oral health education, assessment and preventive services in primary care, school, and community settings.

— Develop and implement an ongoing oral health surveillance program, within the Sonoma County Department of Health Services…