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Dear Colleague:

Nothing makes me happier than reporting to you that the Denver Water Commissioners voted unanimously to retain community water fluoridation for its more than 1 million customers.  I want to thank all of our partners that wrote a letter, provided testimony at the hearing, reached out individually to a Commissioner, or educated their constituents about the importance of fluoridation in fighting cavities.  

But our work is not over--Snowmass recently had an unscheduled vote which removed fluoridation- but diligent community members are fighting to have it reinstated.  Hayden has a ballot initiative in November to determine whether or not to keep fluoridating its water.  OHCO and network partners are working diligently in all these communities by providing technical assistance, financial support, and strategic planning guidance to help keep fluoride in our community water systems. 

Denver’s decision is not only important for its customers, but sets a national tone by listening to the science.  The new strategy of those opposed to fluoride is to now concede that fluoride helps prevent cavities- but make false claims that it impacts a person’s health.  Fortunately, Denver chose to listen to the case that fluoride is safe and effective.

If you think your community could be facing similar discussions, we are thrilled that the Oral Health 2020 All-Partner Network has launched Preserving and Implementing Water Fluoridation in Your Community: A Community Toolkit.  This new toolkit has everything communities facing this issue will need. 

Deborah L. Foote, MPA
Executive Director
Oral Health Colorado

                    Ted Mentry                    Greg Hill              Stephanie Rose
OHCO Welcomes Three New Board Members
  • Greg Hill, JD- for the past year Greg has served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Dental Association.  For the previous 15 years, Greg was the Assistant Executive Director of the Kansas Dental Association, where he also served for 10 years as the Executive Director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, the parent organization of KMOM.
  • Ted R Mentry III- Ted is currently the VP Business Banking Relationship Officer with UMB Bank Denver. His background includes 11 years of commercial banking with a focus on real estate, dental, and non-profit organizations.  Ted previously was an Ambassador with the Metro North Chamber of Commerce supporting small businesses and is a supporter of the Metro Denver Dental Society.
  • Stephanie Rose, Ph.D.- Dr. Rose is an Assistant Professor in Women's and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and is Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Colorado Springs.  She holds a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature and received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue University.
Public Will Building One Partnership at a Time 
OHCO’s goal is to build greater public will for oral health initiatives by enlisting new partners across the state who will help educate and activate change around oral health at the community level.  To achieve that goal, OHCO is continuing to grow and diversify its community partners to include change makers on the ground.
As an example, at this moment NAACP Colorado is moving closer to adopting a statewide oral health proclamation, recognizing that oral health is a healthy equity issue that plagues people of color and must be addressed along with the other racial and ethnic disparities in our healthcare system.
The proclamation was introduced by the NAACP Aurora chapter, supported by the Cheyenne Wyoming chapter at the August state conference and is now pending a final introduction to the Pueblo Branch this October, when it will be considered a state resolution.  It will then await national approval in 2016.
OHCO has also partnered with the Colorado Muslim Society to conduct two leadership training sessions this spring to 55 imam’s (the person who leads prayers in a mosque) across Colorado.
The purpose of these trainings is to educate the Colorado Muslim community about the importance of oral health as it relates to total well-being and its connection to other health issues and lifestyles, as well as to develop leaders and oral health advocates in this community across the state.
Francoise remains busy this summer and fall continuing to connect with oral health coalitions that work with the underserved across the state.  She recently met with oral health advocates in Chaffee, with a meeting planned in September with San Juan Basin Health with the purpose to launch an oral health coalition in Cortez. This will be the first time this group of key stakeholders will be meeting to organize on oral health coalition in Montezuma County.  Francoise will also meet with Aspen to Parachute Dental Health Alliance and the NE coalition in October.
The goals of these meetings are to educate local oral health advocates about oral health progress in the state as well as to provide tools to help them grow the conversation about oral health in their communities, with a goal to build public will towards positive change.
Those are just a few examples of how support is growing among organizations that serve a wide range of our underserved populations.  Even more at-risk communities are being brought into OHCO’s partnerships for change, including Stapleton FoundationOne Colorado Education Fund (which connects with 50,000 engaged LGBT Coloradans), MSW Health Policy, Personal Assistance Services of Colorado (PASCO), and Advocacy Denver
We are working with these organizations to co-promote, join our committees, host presentations, provide materials and develop the tools to help change public will about oral health.  
SMSK Check Up! 
Smart Mouths Smart Kids (SMSK) is entering a new and exciting phase of implementation, with the selection of three diverse pilot communities that will “test drive” the toolkit in order to inform best practices and more widespread use. A team of stakeholders is leading the charge, including OHCO, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the University of Colorado School of Public Health. The SMSK project was developed with funds from the DentaQuest Foundation during its Oral Health 2014 initiative. Through implementation and expansion, SMSK contributes to a major goal  of the Foundation’s Oral Health 2020 initiative— that by 2020, the ten largest school districts in the nation will have incorporated oral health into their systems.
Over the next several months, the Aspen to Parachute Dental Coalition, Kids in Need of Dentistry, and the Northeast Colorado Dental Coalition will begin to use the SMSK toolkit, especially the feasibility calculator and data application.  Each community will focus on a local/customized approach to using the toolkit, including:
  • Using intraoral cameras to document decay and communicate with parents about the dental problem(s) their children have, with a goal of improving parent compliance for seeking recommended follow-up care.
  • Training treatment “teams” comprised of two hygienists and an assistant, to use the data application during dental prevention education, screenings, cleanings, fluoride varnishes and dental sealants. Customized reports of student oral health data will be shared with participating schools.
  • Increasing tablet technology capacity for dental hygienists contracted with a local public health agency.
SMSK’s over-arching goals that the dental health of Colorado students will be improved through sustainable school-linked oral health prevention programs.  Each of the three pilot locations will help SMSK to refine its tools and technical assistance in order to position SMSK for future expansion in Colorado, and nationally. The SMSK website will be updated to include “pilots in progress” stories, allowing other interested communities to begin generating ideas, laying a foundation, framing, and building their own SMSK school-linked programs. Learning tools will be added to the website, including a “getting started” infographic and a step-by-step “walk” to access and use the data application and feasibility calculator.
For more information, contact Deb Foote at deborah@oralhealthcolorado.org.  
Oral Health Stories for Sharing
OHCO and its exapanding base of oral health partners and will builders continue to work together to make oral health an equal part of the whole health conversation and create awareness about the importance of oral health. Here are a few recent articles and blogs featuring Executive Director Deb Foote you can use to help continue this important education and awareness.
Gail Reeder MPH, Dental Outreach Coordinator for HCPF

Gail Reeder MPH, Dental Outreach Coordinator, HCPF
Guest Column HERE
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OHCO Marketing Communications Update
Working to build and enhance OHCO’s visibility as an organization and leader in oral health advocacy, OHCO’s marketing, communication and development efforts are expanding.
OHCO has been very busy lately communicating with and updating Denver’s oral health community with action alerts, updates and decisions around Denver Water’s community water fluoridation discussions and recent decision.
With a focus on building the organization’s social media impact, OHCO is edging closer to its 1,000 follower and fan social media goals as it recently pushed to its combined total to 725.  The last 30 days alone resulted in a 44.6% increase in Tweet impressions.  Not surprisingly, Facebook spiked for the month at 375 people reached organically and 66 likes on the day Denver Water made its decision to continue protecting Denver families by fluoridating its water.
OHCO has recently met with Univision and the DPS radio station for the Latino community, EDUCA Radio, to discuss ongoing partnerships to help reach even more parents and families within the Hispanic community.
Guest blogs and columns, newspapers stories featuring Executive Director, Deb Foote, continue to help OHCO educate the community about the state of oral health in Colorado.  You may have seen the recent articles in the Colorado Statesman or Glenwood Springs Post Independent, or in Health News Colorado, Colorado Trust blog.
Meghan has also been busy updating the organizational website and searching out new fundraising opportunities.  If you are not connected with us, please like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Have you Registered for OHCO's  October 9th Awards Celebration and Meeting?
At its annual event, OHCO will be presenting its annual Oral Health Champion Awards, whereit  will recognize a 2015 Legislative Champion and Lifetime Oral Health Champion.
Also, DentaQuest's Patrick Finnerty will update us on the progress being made to secure oral health Medicare benefits for our seniors. He will discuss the strategies being implemented by DentaQuest and its partners behind the scenes to build a political movement to add dental services to Medicare. 
Like on the image to register!
Click on image to see SIM grant results
Why You Should Care about SIM Grants
Many of you may ask why OHCO is writing an article on the SIM (State Innovation Model) grant--isn’t it all about the integration of physical and behavioral health?  
OHCO believes that any systems change effort must include assuring that Coloradans have access to comprehensive integrated care--and that includes dental services.
To help facilitate the oral health conversation, OHCO has reached out to all its network partners that have been assigned to a SIM Workgroup and asked that they keep oral health in mind.
Additionally, OHCO has recruited individuals to be  watchdogs for oral health- and have been assigned to cover a specific workgroup.  
We plan to occasionally convene our network to discuss how oral health is being included in the SIM activities. Additionally, after extensive efforts, our own Executive Director has been appointed to the Evaluation Workgroup!   

We believe that there are “no cost” ways to weave oral health into the SIM opportunity.  From inclusion of oral health in practice transformation to including oral health in the curriculum for community health workers, oral health cannot be left out of the conversation.  For more information on SIM, click here
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