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dentist-with-young-patientApril is National Minority Health Month – a time for us to highlight the Department’s work promoting the well-being of racial, ethnic and linguistic minority populations throughout the Commonwealth. Spearheaded by our Office of Health Equity (OHE), all DPH programs strive to respond effectively to the critical public health needs of these communities.

One area worthy of focus is the work OHE is doing around oral health – an area where large disparities still exist in Massachusetts.

One of the most exciting ways that we’re addressing this issue is through the DPH funded Massachusetts Oral Health Equity Project (OHEP),  a 5-year project which aims to ensure minority children ages 0- 14 in Worcester and Holyoke have a dentist and are able to see that dentist on a regular basis. Using the data collected during the first year of the project, OHEP is now beginning to establish partnerships with a variety of service systems including Head Start, Early Intervention, Community Health Centers, School Nurses, WIC programs and MassHealth. Together with these partners, OHEP will determine opportunities to increase parent engagement, as well as develop a protocol to ensure children are seeing the dentist on a regular basis as well as for follow-up services.

In the coming years, OHEP staff plans to use the lessons learned from this project to develop a statewide oral health equity plan with the overarching goal of improving access to dental care for underserved children and families throughout the Commonwealth.

Written By:


Director of Local Public Health Initiatives, Office of Health Equity

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