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Action for Dental Health

Vermont dentists map smiles strategy

January 23, 2015

By Craig Palmer

Keep Vermont Smiling logo

Dr Miccolo
Dr. Janet Miccolo

Dr Pitmon
Dr. Stephen Pitmon
South Burlington, Vt. — Videos airing on TV stations throughout the state and online encourage viewers to “help keep Vermont smiling.” Dr. Janet Miccolo and Dr. Stephen Pitmon alternate in introducing the Vermont State Dental Society’s strategy for addressing unmet needs with a smile-infused message.

“You can tell a lot about Vermonters by our smiles. That we’re healthy. We’re happy. And that we have a lot to be proud of. Vermont is a leader in quality dental care. Our state ranks first for kids with no dental problems. And we’re the second healthiest state in the nation. Your community dentists are leading the way to providing everyone opportunities for expert dental care. But there is still more we can do. Help keep Vermont smiling. Learn more at VTActionfordentalhealth.org.”

VSDS dentists launched a social media and television campaign to build support for the multi-faceted 2015 VT Action for Dental Health plan to expand access to dental care and preventive programs in schools, nursing homes and community and federally qualified health centers.

The VTActionfordentalhealth home page offers public opportunity to ”Sign the Petition and let your Representatives know that you support dentists’ efforts to improve the dental health of all Vermonters;” ”Find Your Elected Officials;” “Join the Action E-List,” and “Like Us on Facebook.”

The Jan. 22 home page featured “Action for Dental Health News” and opportunity to click on these headlines to read the full story: VT Community Dental Health Coordinator and Vermont Nursing Home Launches Long-Term Care Dental Pilot Project.

“As Vermont discusses health care reform and reducing the remaining barriers to affordable dental care in Vermont, Vermont’s community dentists believe it is important to understand what we are doing well as a state and where we are making very steady progress,” said Dr. Pitmon, VSDS president. “This is the best way to inform our strategy for addressing unmet needs.”

The VSDS report, Miles of Smiles: The State of Dental Healthcare in Vermont, declares that “Vermont’s oral health programs are working” (Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Oral Health Survey, 2014). The Vermont ADH plan “identifies the right path for ensuring every Vermonter has access to the dental healthcare they need and deserve, and that a fully licensed doctor of dentistry directs this care.” A pdf version of the report is available at VTActionfordentalhealth.org.

Dentists are taking the lead

“We’re on a mission to help deliver the quality dental care all Vermonters need,” the VSDS said. “Here’s how.”

We're removing barriers to dental health for every Vermonter

The VSDS is working with the state to expand the Tooth Tutor program to every school to ensure every Vermont child has access to dental care.

To enhance oral health during pregnancy and critically important early childhood years, VSDS is recommending that Vermont put a public dental health hygienist in every Vermont Department of Health district office to serve WIC (federally funded women, infants and children program) recipients, pediatric care offices, childcare centers and schools.

To connect more people to dental care and education and remove barriers that keep people from visiting the dentist, VSDS is advocating expansion of the American Dental Association’s Community Dental Health Coordinator program to more underserved communities in Vermont.

Vermont dentists are committed to placing mobile dental chairs in nursing homes and actively working to expand the program. VSDS will match every dollar the state invests up to $50,000 in providing mobile dental chairs in nursing homes.

We're increasing access with meaningful reform and real results

Vermont dentists are working to develop continuing education programs that cross train physicians and dentists to ensure better outcomes for patients and lower overall healthcare costs.

VSDS will continue to work with federally qualified health centers, the Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation to expand partnerships with FQHCs that provide dental care to underserved populations throughout Vermont.

Vermont dentists are working with the American Dental Association to fund a comprehensive study to identify the best ways to substantially reduce ineffective and costly use of emergency rooms for dental care in Vermont to get people from the ER into the dentist’s chair where they can receive the best treatment for dental pain.

Vermont dentists are collaborating with the Veterans Administration and the University of Vermont Health Network to expand options for Vermont’s veterans, many of who have unmet dental health care needs.

Expanding Vermont's oral health care workforce

VSDS dentists will work to expand recruitment efforts such as loan repayment programs and remove barriers to the recruitment of dentists to Vermont.

The VSDS will continue expanding efforts to integrate Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDAs) to help dentists provide more care to more people across the state. Vermont has a nationally accredited educational program to train EFDAs, who can expand the efficiency and productivity of a dental team. There are more than 40 EFDAs currently in Vermont. More are needed to expand capacity statewide.

We're bringing disease prevention to Vermont communities

The VSDS will continue its work with the state to encourage Vermont communities to participate in community water fluoridation, which benefits everyone.