North Shore Health Care Foundation
Our mission is to benefit health care for those who live, work and visit in Cook County
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Oral Health

Providing oral health care to the children of Cook County
and the Grand Portage Reservation


What is the Oral Health Task Force?
The task force is a community effort organized by the North Shore Health Care Foundation to address gaps in preventative dental health care for our children.  Sponsered by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, it includes our school nurses, Grand Marais Family Dentistry, Cook County Public Health and Human Services, and the Grand Portage  Reservation Health Service.

What are Our Goals?
To provide dental care to the children of Cook County and the Grand Portage Reservation from prenatal to young adults 26 years of age.

To make dental screenings, exams, and care more available.

To educate families on the importance of early preventive care and financial programs that makes dental care more affordable.


Why is Dental Care so important?
Having healthy teeth is an integral part of children's overall health and well-being.  Early preventive care such as screenings and sealants can keep teeth healthy and reduce the need for expensive restorative care later.  Although tooth decay is almost completely preventable, it is the most common childhood disease.  Studies show links between ear and sinus infections, weakened immune systems, diabetes, and other serious illnesses.  Lack of dental care can affect children's speech, nutrition, growth and development.  Over 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental- related illness.


What do Dental Screenings involve?
This is a basic screening to help us understand the needs for dental care.  We will lokk to see if a child has sealants, whether they have been to a dentist, and who has greater needs for dental care.  We will send follow-up letters to parents of children who we believe could use further care.

Getting dental care for your child:
A screening does not replace regular dental care. The Oral Health Task Force has a sliding fee payment program for those without adequate dental insurance.


The Oral Health Task Force works to provide dental care to the children of Cook County and the Grand Portage Reservation.  We educate the community on the importance of early preventative care and promote financial assistance that makes dental care more affordable.

The Oral Health Task Force offers a generous sliding fee scale program to cover children prenatal  to 26 years of age and other dental care needs for children not covered by other programs.

Call Georgene or Bonnie  387-2334
Mail: PO Box 454 Grand Marais, MN 55604

Oral Health Videos



Oral Health Sliding Fee Scale Application Instructions
Oral Health Sliding Fee Scale Application
Prenatal Oral Health Care for Your Baby
Oral Health for Your Baby

Congratulations to the North Shore Health Care Foundation Oral HealthTask Force. They received the State award from Minnesota Association of Rural Health

-- RuralTeam Award Winner. 

The North Shore Health Care Foundation's Oral Health Task Force received the 2017 Minnesota Rural Health Team award. The task force works to bring critical preventive and restorative dental care to all infants, children and young adults in Cook County and the Grand Portage Reservation, regardless of their caregivers' ability to pay. They have shown tremendous leadership in overcoming significant barriers to oral health care such as poverty, maltreatment, transportation and misconceptions about what comprises good oral health. To achieve sustainability, the task force has begun integrating preventive oral health into the work of other medical and social service providers in the county.

North Shore Health Care Foundation's Oral Health Task Force:
Back Row, Left to Right:
Karl Hansen, Executive Director, North Shore Health Care Foundation
Bill Heitzman, Advanced Dental Therapist, Grand Marais Family Dentistry
Georgene Daubanton, Oral Health Coordinator
Bonnie Dalin, Dental Hygienist, Oral Health Education Coordinator
Joni Kristenson, RN, PN, Cook County Public Health Coordinator
Rita Plourde, CEO, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic
John Bottger, Past President, Board Member, North Shore Health Care Foundation
Todd Lemke, Board President, MN Rural Health Association

Front Row, Left to Right:
Jetty St. John, Grant Writer
Dr. Alyssa Hedstrom, Grand Marais Family Dentistry
Paul Nelson, Treasurer, North Shore Health Care Foundation; Chair, Oral Health Task Force
Teresa Borak, RN, Clinical Supervisor, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic

Speech to June 20, 2017 MN Rural Health Conference by Paul Nelson,
Chair of North Shore Health Care Foundation's Oral Health Task Force

Cook County, the tip of Minnesota’s Arrowhead, is an beautiful area of dense forests, the BWCA, Lake Superior and quaint towns like Grand Marais, Lutsen and Tofte. But it is a tough place to make a living: In 2016, half of our residents were on SNAP, receiving food stamps. Our reported incidents of child abuse are up 300% in the last 5 years. 1 in 4 households are touched by this abuse. Parents, faced with buying food or taking care of their children’s oral health, will choose food. In light of all that, Dr. Hedstrom and I met and decided we needed to do something about those children’s lack of oral health care. And we needed to pull together a team of community health professionals to help us meet our simple goal: Provide access to oral health care to all children in Cook County and the Grand Portage Reservation, regardless of their caregiver’s ability to pay. We are doing that:

1. We touch virtually every child in the Cook County Schools, including our Independent School District, the two charter schools in Tofte and Grand Marais, preschools, etc.

2. Our original target was all children from 18 months to 18 years. We’ve expanded that to Prenatal to 26 years.

3. Our original intent was to figure out how to identify those children who needed restorative treatments and set up and fund a sliding fee scale that would help caregivers pay for the dental treatments. We are doing that by getting grants from generous and committed foundations like Lloyd K. Johnson, Northland, Delta Dental, Medica and others.

4. Realizing that this was only treating a problem and not curing it, we created or found quality educational materials and have been using those to educate and train children, caregivers, expectant mothers, and the professionals in our community clinic, the dental office, our community health workers and our OHTF staff. If we can help create healthy mouths from birth, we can greatly reduce the pain, health issues and the great expense of restorative dental treatments.

5. But since this program must become sustainable without the constant infusion of money from grantors, we’ve begun integrating our processes into the daily life of these partners - our dental clinic, the community clinic and the community health system. By making this as efficient and economical as we can, we allow these partners to absorb these processes into their regular operations. And continue to improve oral health for all the children in our county and on the GP reservation.

6. Finally, a lot of this work wouldn’t be necessary if our legislators hadn’t put MN in the unconscionable position of having the 49th or 50th lowest public assistance pediatric reimbursement rate in the country! We will continue to do our work, but it’s time for the legislature to fix this problem. 062017 Speech to Rural Health Conference As Todd noted, we’d be happy to answer any questions in the St. Louis River Room during Session 3A from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Thank you for this wonderful award!

We would like to thank the

for their generous donations to the oral health task force.

The Oral Health Task Force: This program is made possible by support from grants received 2011- March 2016.

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, First and Second Street Thrift Store, Grand Marais Lioness Club, Grand Marais Lions Club, Lloyd K Johnson Foundation, Mardag Foundation, Medica Foundation, Minnesota Dental Foundation, Minnesota Power Foundation, North Shore Health Care Foundation, Northland Foundation, Carlton-Cook-LakeSt. Louis Community Health Board, Atkins Memorial Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
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