OCF Celebrated Children’s Dental Health Month with $773,500 Awarded in Grants

Oregon Continues to Have One of Country’s Highest Rates of Childhood Dental Disease


Portland, Ore. — February 22, 2017 — February is the nationally recognized Children’s Dental Health Month, shining a spotlight on an issue of particular importance in Oregon – the state has one of the country’s highest rates of childhood dental disease. The causes of this preventable epidemic include limited access to community water fluoridation, inadequate education, economic hardship and lack of dental insurance and dental care. If left untreated, dental disease can be devastating to children’s health, educational success, productivity, self-image and future potential.

This silent epidemic is disproportionately affecting Oregon children primarily due to limited access to community water fluoridation and dental care, regardless of income. The 2016 Progress Report on the Strategic Plan for Oral Health in Oregon found that only 22.2 percent of Oregonians reside in communities with optimally fluoridated water. This is an important statistic because fluoride strengthens teeth throughout a person’s lifespan, helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth, and it reverses early decay. Additionally, since Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists in Oregon are lower in comparison to other states, many dentists do not accept Medicaid, which results in families having another barrier to getting dental care.

To address the statewide crisis in Oregon, The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) launched the five-year Children’s Dental Health Initiative in 2014 and built partnerships with other funders to improve access to care statewide. With financial support from A-dec, The Collins Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northwest Health Foundation, and Providence Health and Services, OCF just awarded fourteen grants totaling $773,500 to bring dental screening and preventive services into school settings, promote oral health literacy, and develop infrastructure that provides all children in Oregon with timely access to age-appropriate dental care.


  • Community Health Clinics of Benton & Linn Counties, Corvallis; $50,000 to expand school-based dental services in Benton and Linn Counties.
  • Eastern Oregon Healthy Living Alliance, Lakeview; $70,000 to implement a school-based oral health program for children in grades K-8 in four Eastern Oregon Counties.
  • Intermountain Education Service District, Pendleton; $70,000 to implement a comprehensive dental health program for low-income students in Union, Umatilla and Morrow Counties.
  • Kemple Memorial Children’s Dental Clinic, Bend; $50,000 to support the Hybrid Screening & Sealant program in Central Oregon.
  • La Clinica, Medford; $50,000 to expand the Happy Smiles program.
  • Lake Health District, Lakeview; $50,000 to support a comprehensive school-based dental program in Lake County.
  • Mercy Foundation, Roseburg; $50,000 to support the Healthy Kids Outreach Program.
  • North Clackamas School District, Milwaukie; $70,000 to implement a comprehensive school-based dental program for North Clackamas K-12 students.
  • Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation, Seaside; $70,000 to support the Providence Healthy Smiles program in Clatsop County public schools.
  • Salem-Keizer School District 24J, Salem; $50,000 to support the Dental Health Solutions for Children program.
  • South Lane Children’s Dental Clinic, Cottage Grove; $50,000 to support the expansion of clinic services and collaborative efforts with other providers.
  • Tillamook Education Foundation, Tillamook; $63,000 to implement a comprehensive dental health program for children in Tillamook, Neah-Kah-Nie and Nestucca Valley School Districts.
  • Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, Cornelius; $70,000 to expand school-based oral health care for underserved elementary and middle school students in Washington and Yamhill Counties.
  • White Bird Clinic, Eugene; $10,500 to support school-based dental services in Bethel School District.

“Dental disease is the most common chronic health condition in children, and yet it is preventable. Dental care should begin with the mother-to-be and children should have their first dental visit by age one. It is never too early to safeguard your child, since dental disease is linked to other health issues and lost time at school. Every dollar spent on childhood preventive dental care is an investment in Oregon’s future,” said Alyssa Franzen, Dental Director for CareOregon. She went on to say, “The cost of effective early intervention is negligible compared to the social and economic costs of widespread, untreated dental disease in our state.”

To learn more about OCF’s Children’s Dental Health Initiative or the read the 2016 Progress Report on the Strategic Plan for Oral Health in Oregon, visit: http://www.oregoncf.org/ocf-initiatives/children-and-families/childrens-dental-health.