Oral Health


There is a need to further the integration of oral health into primary health care, as oral health impacts overall health of an individual. Health care providers’ practice in promoting good oral health varies, due in part to the lack of knowledge and understanding on how to interface and refer to oral health providers. Patients are not routinely linked to oral health providers, whether it is for an oral health emergency room or preventive visit. The burden is left on the patient to seek needed oral health care. Oral health and health care providers agree this is a community issue however there is a lack of common agenda across sectors as to what can be done.

The payment system for oral health care needs to be unified and keeping with health care reimbursement. There is significant difference in dental insurance coverage plans in comparison to health insurance. Reimbursement under Medicaid is low, having limited benefits under Medicare. Disparities in dental care coverage continue to exist in minority and low income populations due to lack of adequate insurance or dentists that accept Medicaid. Marathon County is fortunate to be served by Bridge Community Health Clinic and Marshfield Clinic’s Family Health Center, both of which offer access to dental care to under-served populations. There is benefit in strengthening working relationship between federally qualified dental health clinics and dental providers.

Most Marathon County schools are served by Bridging Brighter Smiles, which increases access to preventative oral hygiene care by bringing portable dental equipment right into schools.

Consumers could benefit in increasing their understanding of the importance of good oral health, oral health’s contribution to chronic disease, and prevention measures individuals can take. The aesthetic impact of tooth decay and tooth loss will continue to impact the employability of a segment of the population.


Promote healthy teeth and the entire mouth such as gums, chewing muscles, palate, and tongue with the goal of being free of tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, and chronic oral pain.

Goal Statements:

  • Establish an oral health collaborative initiative in Marathon County that will focus community partners’ efforts.
  • Further the integration of oral health within the delivery of health care.
  • Expand current oral health prevention programs and services.

Shared Measurement:

  • By 2020, 10% of LIFE Report survey respondents will report that in the past 12 months they or someone in their household should have seen a dentist but did not. Baseline: 2015 – 11.1 % of LIFE Report survey respondents, 2013 – 11.3% of LIFE Report survey respondents. Source: 2015-2017 LIFE Survey (.pdf).
  • By December 31, 2019, the percentage of students who saw a dentist for a checkup, exam, teeth cleaning, or other dental work during the past 12 months will increase to 82%. Baseline: 2015 – 79.0%, 2017: 79.6%. Source: Marathon County Youth Risk Behavior Survey.


View the Oral Health workplan here.

Girl with missing front teeth smiling up at camera