The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is offering $500,000 in grants for a program designed to improve the population’s oral health and awareness of dental hygiene issues.
The program will also support professional development for health care providers in 10 counties where dental health among children is severely lacking.
Robert Marino, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey chairman and CEO and chairman of the Horizon Foundation, issued the following statement:
“Our Kids’ Oral Health Program initiative is going to help improve oral health for young New Jerseyans with a higher level of risk. Cavities and dental decay are among the most common, most preventable and most treatable chronic conditions for kids in the United States. The rate of untreated tooth decay in children and teens from lower-income households is twice that of higher income families. Early education and intervention can change this and that’s what this grant program is all about.”
The Horizon Foundation intends to fight against the racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist with regard to dental care. Hispanic/Latino and African American children are nearly twice as likely as white children to suffer from untreated tooth decay, and because of their home and work situations, low-income caregivers often do not have the time to fit in routine dental appointments for themselves and their children.
Furthermore, many people simply do not understand the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene and how poor dental health practices can affect overall health and well-being.
New Jersey state senator Jeff Van Drew, who is also a practicing dentist, is in support of the initiative, stating that, “These grants will help to educate families about the importance of oral health and treat more children.”
Unfortunately, not all families have access to routine dental procedures. Wisdom teeth removal is a common surgery performed on 5 million Americans each year, but many people slip through the cracks, unable to take advantage of regular dental care.