Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine

Barely half of the 300,000 children and youth living in Maine are receiving basic routine preventive dental care. The Children’s Oral Health Network of Maine was created in 2016 with anchor funding from the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation to address the challenge of improving children’s oral health. The Foundation recognized this to be a multi-generational, complex issue, and one that would require changing beliefs, habits, financial structures, and treatment practices.

The Network is a field catalyst, founded on the belief that by leveraging the collective experience and strengths of many different stakeholders, in a coordinated effort over a sustained period of time, it could make a meaningful difference in the lives of Maine children.

The Network has made significant progress by focusing on three strategic priorities: integrating oral health into primary care, expanding school- and community-based prevention, and ensuring that Maine’s oral health system is sustainably financed and staffed in a way that promotes prevention and reduces disparities. In support of these priorities, the Network has:

  • Established an ongoing analysis of dental claims in the Maine All-Payer Claims Database to create annual data briefs and supply this data to the annual Kids Count effort;
  • Helped to restore key oral health positions at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services through legislative advocacy;
  • Expanded the Maine Center for Disease Control’s School Oral Health Program to be available to all public schools in Maine;
  • Secured congressionally-directed spending to support a pilot of the Virtual Dental Home in 9 out of 16 counties in Maine (with plans to expand further); and
  • Significantly increased collaboration among hundreds of organizations and individuals to align grant proposals and complete work together in service of the shared vision: a Maine where all children can grow up free from preventable dental disease.

Going forward, the Partnership will continue to collaborate with its partners to ensure that effective oral health prevention, education, and treatment interventions reach all Maine children.