Idaho has been awarded $1.6 million to develop and implement innovative programs to address oral health workforce needs of designated dental health professional shortage areas (dental HPSAs). Forty-two out of 44 Idaho counties are designated dental HPSAs, according to the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW).
The funding, which will be administered over four years, was awarded to the Idaho Oral Health Program in IDHW’s Division of Public Health by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The program serves as the primary source of oral health surveillance and population-based oral disease prevention programs. The Idaho Oral Health Program provides the infrastructure essential to create, implement, and evaluate oral health initiatives and specific policies.
The goals of this award include:
- Fostering programs that promote oral health or science professions to youth.
- Increasing oral healthcare services by providing funding to medical or dental professionals, health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, dental education institutions, and other entities in dental HPSAs to implement teledentistry.
- Increasing utilization of silver diamine fluoride, a minimally invasive dentistry technique. Silver diamine fluoride is an inexpensive topical treatment and is recommended by the American Dental Association as a method for arresting certain instances of tooth decay.
- In addition, an evaluation on the effectiveness of implementing teledentistry to increase access to oral healthcare and the potential cost savings of utilizing silver diamine fluoride in dental HPSAs will be conducted.