According to Dr. Edward Cox, M.D., Grand Rapids pediatrician and Co-chair of the Kent County Oral Health Coalition, millions of Michigan residents have trouble accessing oral health care which is a serious problem.
The Michigan Oral Health Coalition, MOHC, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, MDHHS, announced their 2020 Michigan State Oral Health Planto improve oral health by the year 2020.
There are three main goals that compromise the new plan –to increase access, awareness and integration of oral health within the next five years, which should significantly improve oral health in the state.
Cox said that oral health care lacks most in lower income communities, ethnic minorities, and with children under the age of five. "According to the most recent numbers compiled in the 2020 plan, 55 percent of Michigan families that earn less that $20,000 annually have had no preventative dental care in the past year –52 percent of children ages five and under have had no preventative dental care in the last year."
Oral health problems are also most dangerous for pregnant women, possibly leading to pre-term births and low birth rates, according to Cox.
With the new plan, the MOHC and MDHHS hopes to "increase access to oral health care in underserved populations."
The first goal calls for increased access to dental insurance and services for children and pregnant women by at least 10 percent. It also calls for bringing in professional dentists to areas where there is a shortage in oral health care providers.
The second goal is aimed towards increasing education and awareness of oral health care to school districts, and coming up with programs to stress the importance of oral health care to children.
The third goal is increased collaboration between oral health, medical and social service providers.
"The plan lays out a series of specific bench marks and tasks for the state to reach these goals by 2020," said Christine Farrell, Oral Health Program Director with MDHHS, "And together we will dramatically improve oral health across Michigan over the next 5 years."
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