SONOMA COUNTY -- St. Joseph Health System -- Sonoma County's mobile dental clinic is among five winners across the nation to share in a $100,000 cash prize awarded to programs that offer accessible dental care to needy populations, it was announced today.
The prize, provided by Tom’s of Maine annual “Dental Health For All” program, was decided by a public vote that took place online. Winners received $20,000 each.
"This generous funding ... will allow us to treat an additional 1,000 children who are underinsured or uninsured at their school sites and at the [Women, Infant and Children center] in the Sonoma Valley," said Stacy Stirling of St. Joseph Health System. "We are grateful for this opportunity to expand our ability to combat tooth decay."
The health system’s Cultivating Health Mobile Dental Clinic provides preventative and restorative treatment for low-income individuals at a housing center in Sonoma Valley once a week and at the Sonoma Valley WIC Center once a month. Access to preventative dental care is a major issue in California, with tooth decay being the most common chronic childhood disease – more common than asthma and obesity, according to California Dental Association. Tooth decay is easily preventable, but does not heal without treatment.
The other winners were: Children's Hospital New Orleans Tooth Bus; Kids In Need Dentistry in Denver; St, Luke's Hospital & Health Network in Bethlehem, Pa; and St. Mary's Dental Care for Kids in Evansville, Ind.
The Tom’s of Maine program has helped make almost 200,000 additional patient visits possible, with $900,000 in funding to more than 25 school and community-based clinics, the company said. This year, the program is focused on mobile clinics, which bring services directly to populations that lack access to dental care.
Tom’s of Maine is a natural products company, based in Kennebunk, Maine., focused on oral and personal care, selling toothpaste, mouth wash, dental floss and other hygiene products.