Study reveals opportunities to meet the oral health care needs of Buffalo’s most vulnerable children
Young children living in poverty in Buffalo suffer higher rates of dental carries and associated oral health problems than children elsewhere in New York. To help develop an actionable strategy for increasing the number of children receiving timely and appropriate oral health care, in early 2009 the Foundation enlisted Kavita P. Ahluwalia, DDS, MPH, Ms. Almyra Ayos, and Diane R. Bessel, Ph.D., MLSW, CNM, to review scholarly research and national best practices, and conduct a statistical analysis, an environmental scan of community resources, and a gaps analysis of current dental health screening providers.
The report, “Addressing Children’s Oral Health in Buffalo, New York,” reveals the following findings:
- 58 percent of service providers offer oral health education and screening services in the community, but few children receive preventative or follow-up care.
- Existing efforts to provide oral health screening and education are uncoordinated and unsystematic.
- Social service providers, parents, and community-based organizations recognize the need for making oral health services more accessible in Buffalo.
- With additional resources and marketing assistance, several dental provider sites have the capacity and interest necessary to expand their dental service offerings, including comprehensive care.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend interventions at four levels: individual health services, community-level, policy-level, and in the dental health community. This report’s findings and recommendations played a significant role in developing our current children’s dental health initiative CHOMPERS!.