HCN News & Notes

Women’s Way to Hold Oral Health Drive for United Way Day of Action

GREENFIELD — The Women’s Way, a program of United Way of Franklin County, is holding a community Oral Health Drive on Saturday, June 18 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Town Common.

The Women’s Way volunteer group will be collecting items related to oral health, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and travel-size mouthwash, to help address the lack of access to oral-health screenings and services. Collection of items will also be accepted at various local businesses and at the United Way office, 51 Davis St., Suite 2, Greenfield, from June 1 to June 20.

Some 48 million children and adults in the U.S. live in areas without enough dentists to provide routine oral healthcare. Millions more can get to a dentist but cannot afford to pay for dental care. Children without access to dental care use emergency-room services more often and face worsened job prospects as adults compared to their peers who do receive care. In Franklin County, access is even more limited for those who are low-income and receiving MassHealth dental benefits. Many dentists in the area do not accept MassHealth, and the dental benefits have been recently cut back.

Just as the mouth is part of the body, oral health is a part of overall health. People cannot be healthy unless they have access to the dental services they need. Utilizing United Way’s Day of Action, the Women’s Way, working with the Health Care for All Oral Health Advocacy Task Force, is expecting to make a bigger impact in 2017 with an Oral Health Fair, in collaboration with service providers, providing services to area residents for free.

“We’re very excited to be working with Health Care for All, Women’s Way, and area providers in anticipation of next year’s Day of Service. It is important to our mission and the community to ensure people have adequate access to basic dental services,” said Sandy Sayers, executive director of the United Way of Franklin County. “This year’s Oral Health Drive by the Women’s Way is just the beginning of addressing the community’s need and access to quality oral health care, as well as building awareness for next year’s Dental Fair.”

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