Briefs and Reports

Expanding Access, Improving Smiles: Connecticut’s Accomplishments in Oral Health

Celebration and a look back

This year marks the final year of the Connecticut Health Foundation’s funding of oral health as a standalone category. This is the result of a 2012 decision by the foundation’s board to dig deep in one priority area – health equity – rather than stretching its resources to cover a wider range of priorities. The choice reflects confidence in the work others are doing in oral health, as well as the fact that oral health is a health equity issue. As a result, the foundation will still support oral health work in the context of health equity efforts.

To mark the accomplishments Connecticut has made in oral health care in the past two decades, the foundation is hosting a celebration to honor three leaders in oral health: Joanna Douglass, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, CT Oral Health Initiative (COHI).

One aspect of this celebration is the publication of a report, “Expanding Access, Improving Smiles: A History of the Connecticut Health Foundation’s Work in Oral Health,” by Zehra Abedi. The report explores the strategies used to improve oral health care in Connecticut, including grantmaking, policy advocacy, alliance-building, and leadership development.

The foundation’s oral health work can be viewed as a powerful example of how strategic philanthropy can serve as a catalyst for establishing new sustainable structures and systems. Connecticut can be proud of the major strides made in oral health – increasing access to care and improving dental health outcomes – and can look to these accomplishments as a model for taking on other health system challenges.