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Background Image: CHOR Oral Health 308 BA

Benton County Coalition Brings Dental Care to the Underserved

Oral health is an important factor in an individual’s overall health, but dental care is difficult to access for low-income individuals. The Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties (CHCBLC), along with Strengthening Rural Families (SRF) and Love INC of Benton County, partner together on programs to offer dental care to the underserved of Benton County. Together, these agencies make up the Benton County Oral Health Coalition along with several community dentists and other volunteers. 

CHCBLC offers dental screenings to the underserved, providing vouchers that patients can take to participating dentists for urgent dental care. SRF and Love INC contract with Medical Teams International to send a mobile dental unit to their facilities throughout the year.

“The ongoing partnership between our organizations continued to be a valuable relationship that provides a small network of dental resources to those in need,” said Molly Perino, dental program manager for CHCBLC. “There is now more community awareness that there are options from each of our agencies to help.”

Recognizing the importance of oral health, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center has provided the coalition with a Social Accountability grant to support screening days at the community health center, as well as dental van visits at SRF and Love INC. This grant also funded the screenings and vouchers at CHCBLC, as well as dental van visits at SRF and Love INC.

“Without the grant, the voucher program would not exist as it does,” Perino said. “We would likely be able to gather up funds between agencies through various means to fund a van here or there, but not with the regularity that occurs now.”

Paul Smith, executive director for SRF, agreed. “There would be much lower availability of care as well as increased barriers to access for oral health services and treatment,” he said. “It would increase the costs of care. For everyone in the health system due to larger unmet medical issues and greater utilization of the emergency room for care.”

Background image: CHIR-Oral-Health-308-BGC

In 2018, the Benton County Oral Health Coalition:

  • Screened 168 individuals and gave them toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and mouth rinse.
  • Issued 152 vouchers, for a total value of more than $44,000, to Benton County residents in need of further dental care.
  • Hosted a dental van 11 times - seven by Strengthening Rural Families and four times by Love INC of Benton County.
  • Provided care for 108 individuals on the dental van, for a service value of nearly $51,000.
Pictured: Paul Smith, executive director of Strengthening Rural Families; and Molly Perino, dental program manager for the Community Health Centers of Benton & Linn Counties
Background image: CHANCE community member

Other Partners Supporting Programs and Services for Greater Access:

  • C.H.A.N.C.E.