Public health attention to oral health care remains inadequate as evidenced by prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease in general and especially in low-income communities. These common oral infections are almost completely preventable with education, effective self-care and timely access to professional oral health intervention. The Oral Health Forum (OHF) works with the public health system, key oral health care providers and community leaders to coordinate, expand, and improve existing oral health resources in health promotion, prevention and treatment.
School based prevention services are convenient, efficient and can effectively reach low-income children that are at high risk for dental diseases such as dental caries, gingivitis and periodontal disease. Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) through its School-based Oral Health Program has identified challenges obtaining follow up care for the Chicago Public School (CPS) children identified as having urgent dental treatment needs. A major barrier to treatment plan completion has been that the CDPH case management system is limited by staffing capacity to conduct year-round, multiple follow-up interactions with families. This recognition and concern led to restructuring and creation of the Dental Case Management (CM) Pilot Project. This project is an intensive collaboration between CDPH and OHF with the focus in two zip code areas of the city (60623, 60629 and 60632) where children are highly affected by urgent dental needs.