Newsroom > DHHS News Release

March 14, 2011

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356

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Children Benefit from New Dental Program

Lincoln - The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Oral Health and Dentistry will team up with federally qualified health centers and Nebraska local public health departments to provide basic dental care to children eight and under enrolled in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Head Start programs.
The program, entitled Oral Health Access for Young Children, extends the Office of Oral Health and Dentistry’s efforts into areas experiencing severe dental care shortages. A total of $349,000 in federal grant money will be given by the Health Resources and Services Administration to DHHS. In turn, DHHS will award funds to 15 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and public health departments in Nebraska.
The program will provide preventive care through fluoride varnishes, a simple application that can help prevent long-term tooth decay. Altogether, 64 of Nebraska’s 93 counties will be served by the program. The programs will work closely with Head Starts / Early Head Starts, WIC clinics, preschool and elementary schools, and child cares across the state to improve the oral health of children across the state.
“The fluoride varnish program provides essential early prevention, and builds an excellent foundation for prolonged oral health,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s chief medical officer and director of the Division of Public Health.
Fifty-two of Nebraska’s counties are dental shortage areas. Of those populations, children are among the most vulnerable to the effects of poor dental health. A DHHS survey in 2005 found that 60 percent of children had experienced dental disease by the third grade. Fluoride varnishes can prevent up to 45 percent of dental decay. This eight-month program will provide 2-3 varnishes a year for children eight and under.
“This varnish program will help strengthen teeth and prevent later oral health problems,” said dental director Kären Sorenson, D.D.S. “It’s our goal at the Office of Oral Health and Dentistry to make sure kids eight and under get the care they need to ensure future success.”
For more information, contact the Office of Oral Health and Dentistry at 402-471-2101 or


Federally Qualified Health Centers and public health departments to receive funds include:

  • Central District Health Department
  • Charles Drew Health Center, Inc.
  • East Central District Health Department/Good Neighbor Community Health Center
  • Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department
  • Four Corners Health Department
  • Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department/People’s Health Center
  • Loup Basin Public Health Department
  • North Central District Health Department
  • Northern Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
  • One World Community Health Centers, Inc.
  • Panhandle Public Health Department
  • Public Health Solutions District Health Department
  • South Heartland District Health Department
  • Two Rivers Public Health Department
  • West Central District Health Department