Oral Health Task Force
Providing community education and early preventative care, incubated from an idea
Healthy Teeth, Healthy Children
The Oral Health Task Force is a homegrown solution unique to Cook County that works to provide dental care to the children of Cook County and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in conjunction with Grand Marais Family Dentistry. Now a program of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. The Task Force provides community education on the importance of early preventative care and provides financial assistance through generous financial assistance that makes dental care more affordable and accessible, including transportation to appointments, if necessary. The OHTF is one of the Foundation’s greatest success stories. It began as a program of the North Shore Health Care Foundation in 2008 and recently moved to the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic (August 2020) to ensure the program’s sustainability – this is great news for the residents of Cook County. To date, the Oral Health Task Force has helped thousands of young people and families with oral health care over the years, often mitigating much more serious problems.
In addition to representation from the North Shore Health Care Foundation, the Task Force includes representation from:
- Grand Marais Family Dentistry,
- Sawtooth Mountain Clinic
- Sawtooth Mountain Clinic,
- Local schools and school nurses,
- Cook County Public Health & Human Services, and the Grand Portage Health Service.
The OHTF employs an Oral Health Educator/Hygienist and works with Grand Marais Family Dentistry and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic for care provision.
Why is dental care so important?
Having healthy teeth is an integral part of children’s overall health and well-being. Early preventive care such as screenings and sealants can keep teeth healthy and reduce the need for expensive restorative care later. Although tooth decay is almost completely preventable, it is the most common childhood disease. Studies show links between ear and sinus infections, weakened immune systems, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Lack of dental care can affect children’s speech, nutrition, growth and development. Over 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness.
Each year, the Oral Health Task Force completes screenings in all local schools, fluoride applications and sponsors two “Free Day at the Dentist” events (Spring & Fall) for those ages 0-26 without dental insurance.
What do dental screenings involve?
This is a basic screening to help us understand the needs for dental care. We will look to see if a child has sealants, whether they have been to a dentist, and who has greater needs for dental care. We will send follow-up letters to parents of children who we believe could use further care.
Getting dental care for your child
A screening does not replace regular dental care. The Oral Health Task Force has a sliding fee payment program for those without adequate dental insurance.
Visit the OHTF page at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic:
Values In All We Do
We believe in the possibilities of people, organizations, businesses and governments working together to create a healthy community for all in Cook County. Our values represent what we believe in, what we stand for and how we approach everything we do at the North Shore Health Care Foundation. They provide a guideline for making decisions at all levels of our organization and include:
- Responsible stewardship
- Collaboration and partnerships
- Efficient and effective governance
- Inherent dignity
- Being nimble
A Little Goes a Long Way
By giving to the Foundation, you can support a variety of valuable programs and services dedicated to health care, emergency services, education and healthy living in a single donation. Be a partner in your own health system.
Have an initiative that helps work towards our vision of a healthy community for all in Cook County? You could be eligible for a NSHCF grant.