Oral health is connected to more than just teeth, it is an essential part of a healthy life. Your oral health is directly related to your overall health and well-being. The bacteria in your mouth can affect your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Oral bacteria can travel through the gum tissues into the bloodstream and travel all over the body. Oral health can also affect overall confidence in children and adults. If you are not confident with your oral health you may avoid speaking up in class or in job interviews.
The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) dental programs offers several services. CHA dental team focuses on creating a healthy population by stopping disease before it happens through preventive dentistry and disease control. Preventative care includes: exams, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, sealants, oral hygiene instructions, and dental education. If any of our patients have a disease, we manage it by providing restorative care, extractions, and addressing pain. The dental programs work with those that are pregnant and families with young children to encourage having a dental home for the children by the time they are 1 years old so that oral health can be discussed early.
CHA’s Dental Health Program serves everyone. Although our programs are focused on Cabarrus county residents, out of county patients are welcomed in both locations. The dental offices in Concord and Kannapolis patients currently consist of 80 % Medicaid, 10% private insurance and 10% uninsured. Approximately 80% of patients are under 18 years of age and this is important for prevention of disease.
The Concord and Kannapolis dental clinics serve as a safety net for the community because of the referrals they receive from hospital emergency rooms and other providers. Both clinics also set aside appointments daily so that emergencies can be taken care of the same day that they occur. Members of the community will not be turned away, regardless of the ability to pay for these emergency situations.
The Community Dental Program at Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) has been paused since March 2020 and will resume when it is COVID safe to do so. Prior to COVID-19, this program would take the mobile dental clinic to every public school in Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts. The goal of this program is to visit every school twice a year so that more preventative care can be provided and the program is able to see more patients. Preventative care includes: exams, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, sealants, oral hygiene instructions, and dental education. The Community Dental Program works closely with the school nurses to make sure that any child who has reported previous dental pain has the consent form completed and are able to be seen when the program comes to their school. This program has also gone to community churches, nursing homes, and a Salisbury location to treat Veteran patients.
When the mobile clinic comes to a school all students are provided with the opportunity to be seen by our dental team. The students are sent home with a consent form that must be completed by the parents at the beginning of the year. When we arrive at the school, we will see everyone that has a consent form (no matter their insurance) and is due for an exam, cleaning, x-ray, fluoride, and may do restorative work if there is time.
This program is working to reduce barriers in terms of access to care. We work closely with the school nurses from Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts to ensure that children miss minimal amount of instructional time and are able to be seen at our mobile clinic. By going to the school, parents do not have to worry about transportation, taking time off work, or scheduling. A lot of the patients we serve are only seen when the clinic comes to their school. Each year, CHA completes an oral health screening on all Kindergarten children to identify needs and establish dental follow up with families as needed. We are working to build trusting and lasting relationships with the adult population which will help with stigma and fear that may come with seeing a dentist for in-person treatment.