The "U.P. Wide Smiles" Oral Health Initiative is well underway!  Since late 2014, our six Upper Peninsula Health Departments are ensuring that U.P. children have access to fluoride varnish, school fluoride mouthrinse programs, learning good oral hygiene habits, and have access to quality dental care.

The initiative was launched with assistance from the Superior Health Foundation (SHF), a charitable organization founded in September 2012 as part of the sale of Marquette General Hospital to Duke LifePoint, a partnership between Tennessee-based LifePoint Hospitals and the Duke University Health System.

In November of 2014, the SHF provided a $195,000 one-year grant to the six U.P. health departments to implement the U.P. Wide Smiles Oral Health Initiative. The MCHD served as the fiduciary agent for the grant and coordinated grant activities. The grant was tremendously successful in increasing awareness about oral health, developing resources to link young children with dental providers, establishing school-based fluoride rinse programs and training primary care clinic nurses on conducting oral screenings and applying fluoride varnish in primary care offices around the U.P.—but there is still more to be done.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation recently awarded the Marquette County Health Department (MCHD) $50,000 to fund the next phase of the "U.P. Wide Smiles" Oral Health Initiative.  This is a two-year project with a start date of June 1, 2016.  The Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD) also awarded the MCHD an additional $5,000 in matching funds for the project.

"By initiating these educational fluoride programs during early childhood and in the elementary schools, we will be establishing sustainable programs in the U.P. to combat tooth decay," Dr. Terry Frankovich, a pediatrician and medical director at MCHD, said in a recent press release about the initiative. "U.P. children have a very high rate of dental decay and according to the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), fluoride can help to reduce dental decay by up to 40 percent."

Superior Health Foundation Oral Health Grant Aims to Curb Childhood Decay

U.P. Wide Smiles Program Oral Health Initiative – Across the U.P. fluoride varnish applied to young children ages 6 months to 3 years old to help reduce the incidence of early childhood caries/cavities.