October 12, 2009 — Vol. 25 No. 32
Idaho State University has received a $329,670 federal grant to help create the ISU Idaho Oral Health Institute (IOHI). The vision of the Institute is to provide a center for oral health education, research and clinical practice in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest, as well as nationally and internationally.
ISU received the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
“We are thrilled that we received this grant to start this exciting, multifaceted project,” said Kathleen Hodges, ISU dental hygiene chair and professor and the grant’s principal investigator. “This will greatly expand our capabilities to offer state-of-the-art education throughout the state. The grant will help us focus on education and research in Idaho on the oral-systemic link, the relationship between oral health and other health problems such as cardiovascular disease.”
The overall mission of the Institute is to promote the highest quality of oral health care by providing an array of services. Those services include education in contemporary clinical methods to oral health professionals, innovative continuing education to health professionals and facilitating collaboration among oral health and health professions researchers across the country. In the future, the IOHI will also create a state-of the-art oral health care facility including classroom, clinics and laboratories with leading-edge equipment and technology designed for education and research.
The Idaho Oral Health Institute is a cooperative venture between the Idaho State University Department of Dental Hygiene and Department of Dental Sciences, both housed in the ISU Kasiska College of Health Professions.
These grant funds will be used to purchase distance-learning education equipment that will link five ISU oral clinics, two classrooms and one conference room. The dental clinics are the Dental Hygiene Clinic and Pocatello Family Dentistry Clinic on the ISU Pocatello campus with the ISU Family Dentistry Clinic in Boise, to be housed at the ISU-Meridian Health Sciences Center along with a satellite Dental Hygiene Clinic. The other oral health clinic is located in Idaho Falls at the Eastern Idaho Technology College/ISU Health Care Education Building.
“We will be able to connect classrooms and clinics throughout the state to offer a great variety of services, from having an expert in a specific field of oral health lecture to a much broader audience, to enabling students in a classroom in Meridian to watch a live demonstration of a new dental technique taking place in Pocatello,” Hodges said. “The Idaho Oral Health Institute will greatly enhance the learning of our students and the teaching capabilities of our teachers and practicing professionals.”
The Institute will be able to deliver continuing education classes conveniently to practitioners from throughout the state and beyond.
The IOHI’s research mission is equally important, focusing on the link between oral health and general health, and communicating that information to health professionals throughout the state, who will then pass that information on to their patients.
Poor oral health has been linked to diseases such as coronary heart disease, preterm birth and low-birthweight babies, pulmonary disease, oral cancer and diabetes.
“There’s a plethora of literature that reveals the relationship of oral health to systemic health and this literature also points to the need for further education about this link to health care professionals and their patients,” Hodges said.
She noted that the creation of the Idaho Oral Health Institute would not have been possible without the support of the Idaho Congressional delegation, particularly U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson of Blackfoot.
“We are indebted to Rep. Simpson,” Hodges said. “Without his support the Idaho Oral Health Institute would not have come to fruition.”