Grant Continues Oral Health Efforts in Eastern Oregon

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image: tooth graphic

The IMESD recently received a $70,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to continue to improve the oral health of children in eastern Oregon. The grant is for year two of four years' potential support to implement a comprehensive oral health program for low-income students in Union, Umatilla and Morrow Counties.

The program features an oral learning lab that is brought to school buildings by a team of trained volunteers to teach students about oral care, from proper brushing and flossing to the importance of mouth guards and nutrition. It is available for Pre-K through 12th graders. Every child who attends the learning lab receives fluoride varnish and sealants applied to their teeth, with parental permission. The IMESD partners with Advantage Dental to provide a hygienist who administers the treatments.

As of December 2016, a total of 1,453 children in three counties – Morrow, Umatilla and Union -- had participated in the oral learning lab. Thirteen school districts and 31 schools in the three counties have chosen to participate.

The grant’s first year was spent establishing the program and planning its implementation. The IMESD is able to reapply for $70,000 in year three & $60,000 in year four.

For more information about the oral learning lab, contact Cathy Wamsley, project coordinator for Oral Health Programs at the IMESD, at

Oregon has one of the country’s highest rates of childhood dental disease. The causes of this preventable epidemic include limited access to community water fluoridation, inadequate education, economic hardship and lack of dental insurance and dental care. If left untreated, dental disease can be devastating to children’s health, educational success, productivity, self-image and future potential. To address this, OCF launched the five-year Children's Dental Health Initiative in 2014 and has awarded 14 grants totaling $773,500 to bring dental screening and preventive services into school settings, promote oral health literacy and provide children with timely access to age-appropriate care.

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