This press release put out at the request of the Alachua County Health Department.
ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Alachua County Health Department (ACHD) will receive funds from the DentaQuest Foundation to support an Oral Health Coalition. The Coalition will consist of community representatives including: ACHD, University of Florida College of Dentistry, School Board of Alachua County, Alachua County Dental Society, Santa Fe College, Alachua County Department of Community Support Services, United Way of North Central Florida, and other community members, including providers of oral health services.
The Coalition will conduct a needs assessment which will include use of available data, as well as collection of new data. The project will include a survey with low-income adults regarding their access to services, perceived needs, and experiences, as well as a screening survey of children. Based on the results of the needs assessment and a review of best practices of other communities, the Coalition will develop an Oral Health Plan for Alachua County.
This grant will benefit citizens of Alachua County by helping develop an understanding of the oral health needs and resources of residents. Like the rest of Florida, Alachua County has no surveillance system. However, the Alachua County Needs Assessment included a phone survey of 400 households, conducted in the winter of 2009, which queried county residents about health issues. Over 40% said paying for dental care was difficult, and 13.5% of the 400 respondents ranked access to dental care as the biggest health-related problem in the County.
Frank Catalanotto, DDS, Chair of the UF Department of Community and Behavioral Dentistry, said, “Toothaches are one of the top reasons for children to miss school. We estimate 200 or more children a year are actually admitted to the hospital for a life-threatening dental infection in the State of Florida."
The 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) reported 22.9% of Alachua County adult residents were unable to see a dentist in the prior year because of cost. The data show that access is worse for minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status, and lower than comparable state rates. The 2002 BRFSS found that 38.9% of adults had lost at least one tooth due to disease. The data, again, suggest that tooth loss was worse among adults with low income and low educational status.
For more information, contact ACHD Director of Program Development, Diane Dimperio at 352-334-8814.
The goal of the Alachua County Health Department is to promote, protect, maintain and improve the health and safety of all citizens and visitors.