WELCOME TO CONNECTING SMILES
Connecting Smiles' vision is to improve the oral health status of vulnerable populations in South Carolina through collaborative partnerships, oral health integration and preventive public health strategies by addressing the following goals
- Provide dental and medical staff, as well as, community based outreach programs with the tools they need to educate and empower parents to positively impact their child's oral health
- Improve oral health for children through the integration of oral health into existing care coordination system models
- Build collaborative partnerships to improve oral health advocacy and inform policy development in our state
- Our Funding has been supported by the Bureau of Health Professions (BHPR) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the DentaQuest Foundation. Key program partners include: the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Dental Medicine, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Dental Association (SCDA).
Rural Dental Capacity Enhancement Project
This project focuses on the expansion of oral health safety net sites in rural South Carolina by doubling the number of rural dental practices to 36 that are eligible as National Health Service Corp (NHSC) sites by the end of the project period. This focus is based on the following mechanisms, including: 1) addressing the business practice needs of existing rural dentists and dental students and residents in training at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and 2) increasing the the number of graduates from MUSC's College of Dental Medicine who indicate they would like to practice in rural or underserved areas of South Carolina.
Water Fluoridation and Advocacy Project
This project aim to improve access to and support for fluoridated water to seven rural communities by the end of the project period. We propose to achieve this project aim by providing high-risk rural communities with funds to update their fluoridation equipment and facilitate their engagement their local rural dentists and safety net primary care providers who care for children. We will also provide educational water fluoridation advocacy training for operators, dentists, and primary care providers.
Teledentistry Feasibility Study
This focus of this study is to improve identify potential clinical applications of teledentistry by conducting a feasibility that includes the identification of consulting specialists, pilot demonstration applications, reimbursement and regulatory issues.
Connecting Smiles Oral Health Training and Resource Initiative
The HRSA Oral Health Workforce (#T12HP24722) grant aims to improve access to risk-based dental care for underserved populations in order to improve their oral health status. Mechanisms essential to bridging the access gap and reduce oral health disparities for our priority population include: increasing the safety net capacity, fostering community oral health coordination, preparing and planning for teledentistry, and ensuring water fluoridation training and equipment replacement for rural county water systems.
The DentaQuest Foundation supports our initiative for improving the oral health status of vulnerable populations, specifically the early childhood population. By partnering with Carolina Health Centers, we effectively addressed oral health integration in clientsג care plans. We assessed the degree to which integration of community oral health coordination competencies into maternal, infant, and early childhood home visitation (MIECHV) curricula improved parent efficacy in managing children's oral health. With funding from the DentaQuest Foundation in 2012, we used the Institute for Healthcare Improvementגs Breakthrough Series to apply a quality improvement framework for integrating new competencies. We used a mixed methods approach; 1) by measuring parentsג perceptions on the value of early childhood caries prevention through the inclusion of six key questions in the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) data collection system and 2) conducting a qualitative evaluation approach to measuring our impact measures and enhance our storytelling through Photovoice.
We are thankful for the assistance of the South Carolina Oral Health Advisory Council and Coalition (SCOHACC) for the preparation and planning of this grant.