Pilot project integrates oral health with other health care services

Pilot project integrates oral health with other health care services

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Oral health care has never really been integrated with other health care services — until now.

Mayo Clinic Health System — Mankato is kicking off a pilot project with Minnesota State University, Mankato to expand pediatric dental services at the Mayo Clinic Health System — Eastridge campus.

“We’re looking to really bridge a prevention gap that exists. Often people that are most vulnerable and underserved are those who are not receiving dental services and yet we see them often in our clinic," Mayo Clinic Health System Physician Dr. Erin Westfall explained. "Being able to offer them these additional services when they’re here is very convenient and it meets a need for our community.”

Westfall and others have been brainstorming this concept for over three years.

They believe having oral care access at the same place as other health services is crucial because preventing a disease takes fewer interventions and doesn't cost as much as treating a chronic disease.

Considering dental disease is the number one disease among children, the pediatric center was the perfect place for this kind of pilot project.

“Oral health is whole-person health and that’s, really, what we are trying to accomplish here is looking at the whole person,” Westfall added.

This won't just benefit the young children of the area, it will also benefit the young professionals.

To help with manpower, MSU’s dental staff and dental hygienist staff will overlook students working on their degree in those fields on location Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“The dental hygiene students are able to see how dental can integrate with medical. When they graduate, this could be an option for them in their career. They could be working at a hospital, working at a clinic and doing this medical/dental integration,” described Brigette Cooper, Dental Hygiene Department chair.

The project was made possible through grants presented by the Mankato Area Foundation and Delta Dental.

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