Idaho Oral Health Program receives $1.6 million to meet state-wide health professional shortage

Posted at 4:47 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 16:53:33-04

BOISE — A majority of the state falls into dental health professional shortage areas.

"We actually have a lot of dental providers available it's just when we look at the uninsured and under-served being able to access those providers, that's where it gets tricky," said health program coordinator Angie Bailey.

The Idaho Oral Health Program received an innovative grant award from the Health Resources and Services Administration. They're using it in part for teledentistry, where they can communicate electronically with dentists. The Department of Health and Welfare says it's ideal for the more rural areas of Idaho and the under-served areas.

"It's really hard especially for our at-risk population, to be able sometimes to access the traditional dental office, especially if they're working more than one job, the parents can't take time off," said Bailey.

It's not the only way technology is being added to the mix; the program is working with the stem action center to teach educators and students about the science behind the health-care.

"Teaching high school educators about the anatomy related to oral health and taking them on field trips," said i-STEM coordinator Kaitlin Maguire.

Higher-education students are another component of filling in the shortage. Part of the money is going to Idaho State University's dental hygienist program for students to go out to meet the needs across the state.

"They will be receiving funding from us to that will allow them to purchase the needed equipment, there's a lot of equipment especially going off-site, and they'll begin in year 2 providing those preventative services," said Bailey.