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Oral Health Task Force

Chair: Kathy Gaskin

The Oral Health Task Force is a forum of community partners dedicated to the prevention and control of oral disease, and improved access to dental care in Adams County.

The Need for Oral Health in Adams County
According to the U.S. Surgeon General's 2000 report, serious disparities exist in access to oral health care, especially for low-income populations. This is true in Adams County, where the lack of fluoridated water, shortages of dental providers and concentrations of poverty contribute to the problem.

Certain areas of Adams County have been designated as a health professional shortage area for dentists. There are 24 dentists per 100,000 people in Adams County. 

According to the 2008 Adams County Community Health Assessment…

  • only 67 percent of Adams County adults reported a dental visit in the past year
  • 68.9 percent of adults had their teeth cleaned in the previous year
  • approximately 14 percent of adults have not had their teeth cleaned in the previous five years and among those who had not been to the dentist in the previous year
  • 52 percent of survey respondents cited cost of dental care as the main deterrent.
  • Just over half (52.8 percent) of Adams County adults have insurance coverage that pays for some or all of their routine dental care.
  • Hispanic/Latino survey respondents were the least likely to have ever visited a dentist or dental clinic.

Children’s Dental Health
The South Carolina Rural Health Research Center reports that although children’s dental health in the U.S. has improved over recent decades, a subset of children continues to suffer dental disease severe enough to constitute a public health problem. They found through their research that a larger portion of rural than urban children had made no dental visits in the previous year and that Hispanic children were at greater risk for having no dental care during the preceding year. They also found that children who lacked dental insurance were markedly more likely to have made no dental visits and that rural children were less likely than urban children to have dental insurance.

Our Efforts to Provide More Access to Dental Care

The Adams Dental Center
The Adams Dental Center located at Head Start can attest to the problems described above.  The center, which has been supported by Head Start, WellSpan Health, Healthy Adams County’s Oral Health Task Force, Gettysburg Hospital Foundation, Robert C. Hoffman Charitable Endowment Trust, Harrisburg Area Community College, Family First Health and local dentists, has been operating for over five years.

Dental hygiene students from Harrisburg Area Community College screen and clean the children’s teeth and then a dental assistant from Family First Health assists local retired dentist Dr. Walter Maust and a few other volunteer dentists to conduct restorative work on the children who need treatment. Currently the center serves students enrolled at Head Start, students enrolled in the Migrant Head Start program and children entering the foster care program in Adams County.

The center has seen an average of over 300 children a year and an average of 650 visits a year.

Family First Health Dental Services Coming in 2012!
The Oral Health Task Force has focused on the need for access to dental care services for all ages in the county due to being a shortage area for dentists and due to the fact that for the uninsured and underinsured it is next to impossible to find dental care in our county. Healthy Adams County has been partnering with Family First Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center located in York County since 2008. They were successful in opening a medical site in Adams County in 2009 to serve many of the  uninsured and underinsured who could not access medical care.

We are pleased to report that Family First Health will be opening dental services at their Gettysburg site in the Peebles Plaza in April 2012! Family First Health will offer a full range of dental services to insured patients and on a sliding fee scale based on income to the uninsured.

Other current and future projects will be focused on prevention efforts and coordination of services in the county once Family First opens its doors to dental patients in April of 2012.

Join the Oral Health Task Force
If you are interested in serving on the task force and working to improve access to dental care and increase prevention efforts around oral health in the county please call Kathy Gaskin at (717) 337-4137.