DentaQuest, the nation’s largest provider of Medicaid and CHIP dental solutions, and TeamSmile, today announced the launch of the TeamSmile Dental Home Project powered by DentaQuest, a nationwide initiative that connects children in need with long-term dental care resources and dental teams.
The announcement was made at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, during the TeamSmile program, featuring financial and in-kind support from United Way and DentaQuest and hundreds of local volunteers.
Local dental providers offered preventive and restorative oral health care services including screenings, x-rays, fillings and other treatments, while other volunteers will educate attendees about the importance of oral health hygiene to overall health and wellness.
Established with $275,000 from DentaQuest, this new project builds upon DentaQuest’s years long partnership with TeamSmile, the nation’s premier advocacy group connecting oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide life-changing dental care to underserved children across the country.
The dental home model of care is a comprehensive approach to oral care similar to a primary care physician relationship. Now, children attending TeamSmile programs who often do not have regular dental care will be connected with a local primary dentist to care for each child as they grow.
Through TeamSmile, children receive needed comprehensive dental care, including preventive and restorative treatments. They also learn from dental providers how to care for their mouths and why a healthy mouth is a key part of overall health. To date, TeamSmile has conducted more than 250 programs, served more than 45,000 children, and provided more than $18 million in free dental care and oral health education. From January to August 2022, roughly 3,000 children attended TeamSmile programs, and more than one-third of these children didn’t have a primary dentist. Since piloting this initiative, the TeamSmile Dental Home Project powered by DentaQuest has connected approximately 700 children with a dental home in their community.
“As a mission-driven company, we take responsibility and seize any opportunity to reshape the current oral care system into one that addresses the needs of children across the country,” DentaQuest President Steve Pollock said. “The TeamSmile Dental Home Project powered by DentaQuest establishes a pathway for a child’s sustained oral health and wellness over their lifetime and opens doors to dental care for siblings and parents. We helped design and invested in this project because we share TeamSmile’s vision for a world where all children can access quality, ongoing oral care and build the foundation for a healthy future.”
During the past few years, DentaQuest has concentrated its efforts on connecting members to permanent dental homes to increase access to preventive oral health care. Children with a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care at the right time, reducing the risk of preventable dental disease and costly dental care later in life. A dental home also enables dental care teams to coordinate care for children and their parents, ensuring preventive care and treatment at all stages of life for the entire household.
The TeamSmile Dental Home Project marks an important step toward ensuring children across the U.S. receive routine, comprehensive oral health care. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 20% of children ages 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth and about 13% of adolescents ages 12 to 19 have the same. If left untreated, tooth decay or gum disease can result in problems eating, speaking and learning, with an estimated average of 34.4 million school hours lost due to acute or unplanned dental needs.
“We are thrilled to announce the creation of the Dental Home Project powered by DentaQuest enabling us to foster ongoing care for TeamSmile children in need,” said John McCarthy, executive director, TeamSmile. “This initiative has the potential to positively impact thousands of children throughout the country each year. We are incredibly grateful for the support of DentaQuest in this endeavor, as they have continued to use their resources to be a force for good in places that need it most.”
To learn more about the TeamSmile Dental Home Project, powered by DentaQuest, visit https://teamsmile.org/dental-home-project/.