Oral health is an often-neglected aspect of our general state of health and well-being. Conditions of the mouth, teeth, gums, and throat — from dental caries to cancer — cause pain and disability that have been shown to lead to a whole array of other health problems.
Kaiser Permanente Northwest recognizes that oral health contributes to overall health, and we are dedicated to improving the quality and access to affordable oral health care. We support community efforts to improve oral health, including the integration of oral health services within primary care, oral health education and prevention services, and school-based oral health services for children.
Many of our dental associates volunteer in the community to offer dental care at free dental care events throughout the year. We provide scholarships to students studying dentistry to build a diverse, adequate and well-distributed oral health workforce. And we are working to reduce health disparities by providing screenings and dental sealants at community and school-based clinics.
Oregon has one of the country’s highest rates of childhood dental disease. At least 1 in 5 children in elementary school (first to third graders) has untreated tooth decay. To address this need, Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Oregon Community Foundation and six other funders to fund the Oregon Children’s Dental Health Initiative.
Funding supports school-based dental programs across the state that provide education, screening, and sealants to children in schools, along with help finding follow-up care for kids who need urgent care.