washington dental service foundation

Medicare and Oral Health


Does basic Medicare cover regular dental visits?
A)    Yes
B)    No
C)    I’m not sure…

If you answered A or C, you aren’t alone, as a recent Washington Dental Service Foundation survey showed 51% of respondents in Spokane believe Medicare covers dental. However, you would be wrong.

Correct answer: B) No, basic Medicare does not cover dental, and a lot of folks entering retirement are learning this the hard way. A recent article in The Spokesman Review talks about what steps folks approaching retirement should take for their oral health.

Good oral health relates to a lot more than just our teeth; our ability to chew effects the nutrition we receive, our ability to smile effects our confidence, and chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes can exacerbate dental decay.

Organizations like Smile Spokane, WDSF’s The Mighty Mouth, and our subsidiary Better Health Together's DENT program are helping connect folks to the dental care they need, but for lasting change, we need a health care system that includes our mouths in our health. To learn more about EHF’s involvement in our community's oral health, view our Oral Health Access Document here. 

Teeth Week – “You’re healthier with a healthy mouth”

More than 50 community leaders gathered at McKinstry on Monday, November 9th to celebrate a successful Teeth Week.  Teeth Week was October 17-25 and is part of the Mighty Mouth campaign that is building awareness statewide that oral health is an essential part of overall health.  In addition to focusing on the value of good oral health, the goal of the campaign is to motivate people to take individual action to prevent oral disease. 

During Teeth Week, more than 35 organizations helped to deliver oral health messages.  Activities included the SmileMobile at the Salvation Army to serve adults; with the help from the Spokane District Dental Society, oral health messages were delivered in 70 schools; there were storytimes in the libraries as well information distributed at the YMCA and Mobius Kids; and seniors were reached through the YMCA Senior Sneakers and through the Safe Foundation.

Awareness about the importance of good Oral Health is all the more important in Spokane where 40% of our children have experienced dental decay by kindergarten and one-third of our seniors have lost all their teeth.

Empire Health Foundation was proud to be a supporter of Teeth Week and is pleased to partner with Washington Dental Service Foundation on overall Oral Health efforts. 

This video highlights the importance of Oral Health in Spokane.  

Smile! It’s Teeth Week in Spokane (October 17-25)


Learn more about Teeth Week, a week of events and activities to raise awareness about oral health, from our partner the Washington Dental Service Foundation!

Did you know that over half of the children in Spokane County have cavities by the third grade? That is one of the many reasons The Mighty Mouth campaign is hosting Teeth Week in Spokane!  Featuring activities and events during the week of October 17-25, Teeth Week seeks to raise awareness about the importance of oral health as it relates to one’s overall health.

Too many people don’t realize cavities  and gum disease are preventable.  Or that disease and infections in the mouth are linked to other serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Mighty Mouth campaign is a statewide public awareness effort to change the way people in Washington think about and value oral health. The Mighty Mouth campaign provides information about how to prevent oral disease and motivates people to take action to stay healthy.

The campaign message is simple:  You’re Healthier with a Healthy Mouth.  The Washington Dental Service Foundation is a sponsor of Teeth Week in Spokane.

Events and Activities:

There are opportunities for coverage throughout Teeth Week.

  • The SmileMobile, (a mobile dental van operated by Washington Dental Service Foundation) will provide care for adults (with pre-scheduled appointments) at The Salvation Army (Oct. 18–19)
  • Oral health “storytimes” at Spokane city and county libraries
  • Activities at Mobius Kids with tips to help keep children cavity-free
  • Educational outreach in schools through the Spokane District Dental Society
  • Presentations at events for seniors highlighting the importance of oral health
  • Outreach to media and community organizations about the importance of oral health
  • A social media campaign - visit The Mighty Mouth Facebook page and share the posts 

Spokane County Fast Oral Health Facts:

  • Over 30 percent of adults have lost one or more teeth due to decay; 5 percent have lost all their teeth.
  • Younger adults (18-34 years) and older adults (55+) are less likely to have insurance, so prevention is important.
  • Good oral health helps people live better, longer.  Oral disease is preventable. Prevention saves money and improves health. 

About Washington Dental Service Foundation

Washington Dental Service Foundation is a non-profit funded by Delta Dental of Washington, the leading dental benefits company in Washington.  The Foundation works with partners to develop and execute innovative programs and public policies that produce permanent changes in the healthcare arena and improve the public’s long-term oral health.  The Foundation focuses on children and seniors, two groups especially vulnerable to oral disease.

About The Mighty Mouth Campaign

The Mighty Mouth is a statewide public awareness campaign to change the way people in Washington think about and value oral health.  This is a campaign to deliver an important message: oral health matters because you’re more fit if your mouth is fit.  

Oral Health Symposiums Bring Statewide Partners Together

At EHF, we believe that good oral health and access to dental care are key to supporting healthy communities, so we were proud to partner with the Washington Dental Service Foundation and the Washington State Board of Health to sponsor Oral Health Symposiums in Tukwila and Spokane earlier this year.  These symposiums brought together statewide partners working to move the dial on oral health in Washington State, including Washington State Board of Health Chair Jim Sledge (pictured below at the Spokane Symposium).

Washington State Board of Health Chair Jim Sledge gives an overview of statewide strategies BOH is deploying in working to improve oral health throughout Washington State.

Washington State Board of Health Chair Jim Sledge gives an overview of statewide strategies BOH is deploying in working to improve oral health throughout Washington State.

Much of the discussion at the symposiums emphasized the role of oral health in overall health, as well as the implications for delivery systems change within the transforming healthcare environment.  Additionally, presentations explored the connections between oral health and population health, and the implications of the triple aim for oral health delivery.

Check out the complete set of slides from both symposiums below:

Finally, Kristen, our VP of programs, gave a great overview on the role of Accountable Communities of Health in supporting population oral health.  Check it out below!

Oral Health for Washington Symposium highlights early wins, opportunities for impact


Empire Health Foundation hosted its first event Thursday, April 30 in partnership with the Washington Dental Service Foundation and the Washington State Board of Health.  Foundation VP Kristen West-Fisher gave a presentation on oral health opportunities for Accountable Communities of Health — take a look below!