Contributed by Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers

Scenic Bluffs Community Health Centers recently announced it had received $4,000 in grant funding from the Green Bay Packers Foundation to support its School Oral Health program. 

This investment will allow Scenic Bluffs to further support the program in area schools in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Left to right: Joni Mellem, RDH, school oral health program coordinator at Scenic Bluffs; Jared Abbrederis, former Green Bay Packer wide receiver; and Chelsea Raiten, dental clinical director at Scenic Bluffs. (Contributed photo)

Scenic Bluffs’ School Oral Health Program provides preventive oral health care services to students in area schools at no cost to families. The program provides assessments, dental sealants, and fluoride applications (when appropriate) to students in seven area school districts and five local Head Start programs. By providing two visits at each school (one in the fall and one in the spring), the dental hygienist is able to confirm sealant retention on teeth and examine for newly erupted molars. 

Joni Mellem, RDH, the school oral health program coordinator at Scenic Bluffs, has seen the impact of the program year after year. 

“By placing dental sealants and fluoride treatment on teeth at an early age, we are beginning to see fewer students with tooth decay, which is very different from what we we’ve seen in the past.” 

Mellem not only provides oral health services in schools, but also works with families to refer them to additional services. 

“If further dental care is needed, and the child doesn’t have a dental home, we work to get them into Scenic Bluffs to see a dentist and start a treatment plan,” Mellem says. 

Dental sealants are a proven method to prevent cavities in the pits and fissures of permanent molars. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “School sealant programs are a highly effective way to deliver sealants to children who are less likely to receive private dental care.” 

The Community Preventative Services Task Force finds, “Dental sealants result in a large reduction in tooth decay among school-aged children.” 

Western Wisconsin is considered a Health Professional Shortage Area for dental health services. Families with Medicaid/BadgerCare experience additional access barriers, as few providers in the region accept Medicaid insurance for dental services. By providing these services in the region, Scenic Bluffs strives to close the gap in health access barriers. 

The Green Bay Packers Foundation has been giving back to Wisconsin’s communities since it was established in 1986 by Judge Robert J. Parins, then president of Green Bay Packers Inc., “as a vehicle to assure continued contributions to charity.” It is a component of Green Bay Packers Give Back, the all-encompassing community outreach initiative. The Foundation, an entity independent of the Green Bay Packers Inc., supports charities possessing one or more of the following goals: perpetuates a community environment that promotes families and the competitive value of athletics; contributes to player and fan welfare; ensures the safety and education of children; and/or prevents cruelty to animals.

Nonprofit and community-based, Scenic Bluffs provides primary care and healthcare access services for patients in the region. Scenic Bluffs accepts most private insurance, Wisconsin Medicaid, and Medicare and cares for those without insurance. Additionally, Scenic Bluffs offers a sliding-fee scale program, available to those with or without insurance, to reduce the cost of care to those who qualify based on the individual’s household size and income. 

For more information on services provided by Scenic Bluffs, visit scenicbluffs.org or call (608) 654-5100.