Newsroom > DHHS News Release

November 25, 2009

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

DHHS Gets Dental Health Grant for Children

Lincoln—The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will receive a grant of almost $1.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration over the next three years for finding ways to improve dental care for children under eight.

“This funding provides us with a great opportunity to reach parents and children and teach them about good dental care,” said Jackie Miller, Chief Administrator of the Division of Public Health. “The grant will enable us to encourage families to have a dental home for their children, which will ensure that care is delivered in a coordinated and family-centered way by a dentist.”

Having a dental home is important because the child will have a dentist who is familiar with the child and the family and who will be aware of past dental care. The dentist can provide preventive care, like sealants, which will protect the child from cavities. If there is a cavity, the dentist can fill it, preventing future pain and suffering. The dentist can encourage brushing and flossing after every meal.

The grant will also fund educational efforts to reach parents and teach them about appropriate dental care for their children. Prevention is the goal of good dental health services, not treatment.

“Some parents don’t know that a child’s first dental visit should be at age one,” Miller said. “Keeping baby teeth healthy is important because they affect the health of permanent teeth.”

An advisory panel will be created to propose solutions to dental care access problems. Twenty counties in Nebraska are without dentists, so access can be a barrier to dental care.

“Kids with healthy mouths learn better and suffer less,” Miller said. “This grant has the potential to impact thousands of kids in Nebraska and ensure they get the dental care they need.”

New Dental Health Director

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has a new Director of Oral Health, Karen Sorenson, D.D.S. She has provided dental services in a volunteer capacity to low-income children and homeless populations. She is a graduate of the University of Washington, School of Dentistry. Dr. Sorenson will be in charge of administering the HRSA dental health grant .

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