LCHD helps access dental care
Lee County Health Department is one of 22 designated Child Health Centers throughout Iowa helpingfamilies, including those in Jefferson and Van Buren counties, access health care.
The I-Smile dental home initiative helps connect Iowa’s children with the dental services they need to grow up happy and healthy. I-Smile provides a variety of services benefitting the oral health status of the community ranging from direct care services to advocating for water fluoridation or simply helping someone new to the area find a dentist.
In Iowa, registered dental hygienists are able to provide direct care services in public health settings through an agreement with an Iowa licensed dentist. LCHD employs a fulltime dental hygienist and I-Smile coordinator, Rachael Patterson-Rahn, as well as maintains contracts with three additional dental hygienists: Dawn Doore, Tammy Forseen and Cynthia Wilson, all of whom have such agreements.
Direct care services, such as dental screenings and fluoride varnish applications, are offered at Women, Infants, and Children clinics. Children enrolled in Head Start also are able to receive direct care services on a routine basis through the I-Smile program. “Unfortunately, there are a limited number of dentists who accept Iowa Medicaid, so reaching out to lower-income populations is an important part of I-Smile,” said Patterson-Rahn.
“Despite the recommendation for dental care to begin by age 1 and increasing decay rates among young children, there are a limited number of dentists who will routinely see children before age 3 or 4. Many of our oral health programs focus on children ages 0-5 which helps families receive the early and regular care which is recommended,” said Patterson-Rahn. “Fortunately, we work closely with many area dentists who are willing to accept our referrals when we do see a young child with dental needs.”
Early Childhood Iowa funding allows direct care services at preschools in three of the counties LCHD serves.
One of Healthy People 2020 national performance measures is to “increase the proportion of children aged 6 to 9 years who have received dental sealants on one or more of their permanent first molar teeth.” Dental sealants are very effective at protecting the teeth from food and bacteria that can cause decay. Through funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health, LCHD is able to provide dental sealants for second graders throughout the service area right at school.
LCHD also can help families arrange appointments, obtain insurance or alternative payment sources, arrange transportation and more through care coordination.
For information, call Patterson-Rahn at 800-458-6672, visit www.leecountyhd.org and click on community health or check out www.ismiledentalhome.iowa.gov.