The HMSA Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to support the UH Maui College “Improving Oral Health for Native Hawaiian Prenatal Mothers and Children” demonstration project.  The program will provide educational sessions and oral health screenings for the 3rd and 7th grade students, and women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant at Maui schools, churches, and health fairs, while providing an opportunity for UH Maui College students to have hands-on service-learning experience.

Through this outreach, women and children will receive oral health and blood pressure screenings and recommended preventative dental care including dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish, and referral for further treatment when necessary.

Allied Health Department Chair at UH Maui College Nancy Johnson stated, “ We aregrateful to HMSA Foundation for supporting the collaboration between UHMC, Hui No Ke Ola Pono and Maui school to document and address oral health needs in Maui children and prenatal women,” Johnson continued, “It is well documented that early identification and treatment of oral health disease is a cost effective way to reduce school absences, emergency room visits, diseases like diabetes and hypertension, and the tragedy of preterm births. This program will screen hundreds of children and approximately 50 prenatal women.  The vast majority of individuals do not realize they have dental disease and the potential consequences. When dental needs are identified during the screening, the women and children will be referred for care.”

The program uses Healthy People 2020 Oral Health goals and is a collaborative effort involving UH Maui College Oral Health Center, Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene faculty and students, Native Hawaiian students and faculty members, and the Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Inc. Native Hawaiian Health Care System.

“Developing a healthy, dental routine starts at an early age and that’s why it’s so important to reach out to young mothers and their children,” says Mark Forman, executive administrator of the HMSA Foundation. “Through this program, students from the UH Maui College will be providing a service while helping our keiki develop good habits to last a lifetime.”

Quick facts about Hawai‘i’s dental health:

  • Statistics from Healthy Smiles Hawaii, a local dental health program indicate the rate of tooth decay among children living in Hawai‘i is two times as high as that among children on the continent. Mainland children have an average of two decayed teeth, Hawai‘i children ages five through nine have an average of four decayed teeth.  The situation is even more serious with certain ethnic groups.
  • Factors that impact oral health in Hawai‘i include no fluoridated water (except on military bases), no organized school sealant program in the schools, lack of funding for preventative dental care.

Failure to provide adequate preventative dental care for adults in Hawai‘i is leading to health problems which are significantly more expensive to treat.

To learn how you can support UH Maui College programs and students, please contact Director of Institutional Advancement for UH Maui College Ray Tsuchiyama at (808) 984-3471 or Ray.Tsuchiyama@UHFoundation.org

You can also make a secure gift online at www.uhfoundation.org/GiveToMCC