For more than a decade, the Chippewa County Dental Foundation, Inc.(CCDF) took the ache out of obtaining dental care for low-income children and adults.
When CCDF dissolved, its board of directors moved $1.1 million in assets to the Community Foundation of Chippewa County. The Chippewa County Dental Endowment was established in August 2020.
CCDF supported organizations that increase availability and accessibility of dental services. It awarded $390,000 in grants for oral health care initiatives in Chippewa and surrounding counties - an endeavor the Community Foundation will fill through the designated fund.
It grew out of the Chippewa Falls 2010 health care task force, which identified the need for dental services for poor and needy families. "People have to choose between food for their kids or dental care for their kids," said CCDF Treasurer Tom Kell of Chippewa Falls.
"Everyone knows that healthy teeth, healthy gums and a healthy mouth make you feel so much better," he added.
Myers, a former St. Joseph's Hospital assistant administrator, noted people who need dental care but can't afford it have come to hospital emergency rooms. Doctors dispense pain medication and antibiotics but can't fix root problems.
Many dentists are unable to accept patients in public health insurance programs because they say reimbursement rates are too low. "Dentists can't do it alone," Myers said.
In a crowning accomplishment, CCDF joined community and governmental partners to establish the Marshfield Clinic Chippewa Falls Dental Center. It provides dental services regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. Patients pay a sliding-scale fee, Myers said.
The center offers a "dental home" for those in need, he said, adding, "I feel we made a difference."
Grants from this fund are designated to organizations that serve and support oral health care efforts, along with those providing education on the importance of preventive care and the impact that oral health has on one's overall well-being.