Horizon intensifying efforts to bring dental services to underserved children

Anthony Vecchione//February 12, 2019//

Horizon intensifying efforts to bring dental services to underserved children

Anthony Vecchione//February 12, 2019//

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In an effort to reach more children in need, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is doubling funding for its Kids Oral Health Program.

KOHP was created by Horizon in 2016 and provided $500,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations that brought dental care and education programs to New Jersey communities shown to have the greatest need.

According to results from the KOHP’s first two years, 15,000 kids in 11 counties participated in school and community-based programs that taught them and their families how to take care of their teeth and gums. The grants also funded direct dental care including, applying sealants that protect teeth from decay to more than 3,000 children; filling cavities for 828 patients; and completing fluoride treatments, which have been proven to prevent tooth decay in children, for 3,700 children.

“Where children live should never prevent them from getting the care they need, whether that care is delivered by a pediatrician, dentist or another health professional,” said Joseph Albano, vice president of Horizon BCBSNJ’s Commercial and Specialty Markets in a statement.

“Working with our community partners, we have made remarkable progress in helping children from low income families see a dentist, and this new investment will lead to healthier kids and healthier smiles across New Jersey. Prevention and wellness are at the center of Horizon’s efforts to improve the quality and overall cost of care for our members and all of New Jersey,” Albano said.

The grantees, and the high-need counties they serve, include: Gracious Smiles, Camden; KinderSmile Foundation,  Essex, Morris and Passaic; Metropolitan Family Health Network Inc., Hudson; NJ Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics, Essex, Hudson, Mercer and Passaic; Newark Community Health Centers, Essex; Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, Essex; Gateway Community Action Partnership, Cumberland and Salem; and Zufall Health Center, Morris and Warren.

The next phase of KOHP grants will focus on four areas to address the prevalence of preventable and treatable conditions of the teeth and gums of children up to age 18:

  • Education and awareness, including school and community-based awareness programs and parental engagement;
  • Prevention, including screenings, cleanings, sealants and the establishment of pediatric dental homes;
  • Treatment, including critical oral health treatments, such as examination, emergency care and other urgent interventions;
  • Professional development, including improved collaboration among dentists and pediatricians to integrate care for children.