Improving Access to Oral Health

Access to oral health services for people who are uninsured or on Medicaid continues to be a significant challenge in Milwaukee County. To increase access for our most vulnerable residents, the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership (MHCP) has served as the catalyst for and co-founder of the Milwaukee Oral Health Coalition (MOHC) since 2012.  Hosted by Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin (Alliance), the coalition focuses on the assessment of dental access needs and the implementation of a community-wide oral health improvement plan.

“We continue to see high rates of ER visits due to dental problems and other critical health markers that demonstrate the barriers children and adults face in accessing dental care,” said Matt Crespin, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The need for comprehensive, sustainable solutions that bring affordable care to where people are has never been more evident.”

MOHC goals include informing state and local policy, enhancing care navigation and coordination, and improving Medicaid MCO dental access and network adequacy, among others. The coalition also works to monitor and support prevention, early intervention, and access for target populations, including children ages birth to school-aged, pregnant women, and people with special needs.

In support of the coalition’s goal to increase the number of students served by school-based oral health programs in high-risk schools in Milwaukee, the MOHC has facilitated the establishment of school-based clinics in nearly 200 schools across Milwaukee County. It has also supported capacity building efforts at several Milwaukee Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and free and community clinics.  In addition, Advocate Aurora Health has recently collaborated with MOHC partners to obtain funding from Delta Dental of Wisconsin to facilitate expanded mobile dental restorative care at Milwaukee schools and Sinai Hospital, with dental care provided by DentaMed.

The MOHC has also been tracking other new efforts to expand access to dental services in Milwaukee, including Ascension Wisconsin’s Smart Smiles Program and Seton Dental Clinic. Ascension Smart Smiles school-based oral health program will be supporting 107 schools in school year 2022-23, and the program will be adding additional mobile dental teams to support children with urgent dental needs. Ascension Wisconsin will also be relocating the Ascension Seton Dental Clinic to the Ascension St. Francis Hospital campus and Outreach Community Health Center (OCHC). It is anticipated that both clinic sites will be operational in late summer 2022.