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2/ October 29, 2015 Oral Health Gets Mobile The Healthy Smiles for Life Mobile Dental Unit, an extension of the Live Well Community Health Centers in Waverly and Concordia, is now actively providing oral health care in and around Lafayette County. The Health Care Collaborative (HCC) of Rural Missouri designed the Healthy Smiles for Life program to provide quality dental care for children in their rural service area. Missouri ranked 47th in the nation for oral health care, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though children's oral health care is covered under Medicaid, the Missouri Foundation for Health states that only about 34 percent of eligible patients utilize it. These statistics are cause for concern for rural health care organizations, who are tasked with bridging the coverage gap in their communities. With limited health care providers and resources to make the services that are needed available, many rural communities have come to rely on HCC's Live Well Centers, both Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), that are required to serve everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Geoff Peterson, DMD, the dental director for the Live Well Centers, said he is eager to meet the need for oral health care in Lafayette County. "Finding access to care and access to dental providers is very difficult, especially in rural Missouri," Dr. Peterson said. "The primary goal is for patients who can't get to the clinic. We now bring the clinic to them." The mobile dental unit has traveled to the Carrollton, Lafayette County C-1, Higginsville, and Norborne school districts and will be visiting Odessa and Fort Osage in the spring. Healthy Smiles for Life has also made mobile services available to the Migrant Farmworkers Project and United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) Head Start. "The number one thing that we provide is education," Dr. Peterson said. "All dental decay is preventable, and the biggest thing we're trying to get across is that it can be prevented with proper home care." Peterson said that preventive care empowers patients to take charge of their oral health and avoid the pain and cost of severe dental problems. The mobile dental unit also provides fluoride to protect patients' teeth. "When we give fluoride, it really adds to decay prevention because it strengthens the teeth and gives them an extra layer of armor," Dr. Peterson said. "It makes them stronger and harder to cause a cavity." "Once it does get to the point of needing treatment, usually it is emergency care that has to do with discomfort and pain." In order to meet the immediate needs of those suffering from severe dental pain, the Healthy Smiles for Life program provides on-the-spot emergency care. Children and parents in Lafayette County have access to dental exams, x-rays, and diagnoses when the mobile dental unit comes to their community. Paula Kopp, clinical operations manager for the Live Well Centers, explained that oral health is a great indicator of overall health. "There are things that can be identified in a person's mouth that can lead them to a medical provider, such as diabetes, sleep apnea or cardiovascular disease. Oral health is really important because many of those conditions are now being found in more and more children." And while Dr. Peterson stressed that the mobile unit is not meant to replace regular dental visits, it continues to serve as a resource for health care and preventative services in an underserved area. By Jessica Fraser Heidi Koger Proofreader Tempest Wright Contributing Writer Photography & Video Jessica Fraser Freelance Writer Marjorie Langas Graphic Support Randy Leiker IT Support Tonia Wright Publisher, Editor-in-Chief Tell us how we're doing online or on Facebook. The Buckner Clarion is published by Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. 325 Broadway Lexington, MO 64067 660.259.3700 or 866.824.1020 (press 0) is the online arm of this print publication. A special thank you to our advertisers and sponsors in this issue: City of Buckner Park Board Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. HCC of Rural Missouri Red Cross Pharmacy The Firm Insurance Group

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