CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina Institute of Medicine found recently that 14 percent of the state’s kindergarteners have untreated decay in at least one tooth1. This and other impactful statistics from across the state spurred Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC), Bull City Forward and the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) to sponsor the Oral Health Initiative, a competition-based program ( to encourage the development and implementation of ideas that will bring awareness to existing dental health issues and offer oral health solutions for North Carolinians.

“Dental health and dental education lay the necessary foundation for overall health,” said Don Bradley, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSNC. “Medical research indicates a link between poor oral health and major health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke2. That makes this an issue we can’t ignore.”

Today, the organizations announced the winners of the Oral Health Initiative. The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA), Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health with Melanie Raskin will each receive $20,000 to help implement their solutions to improve oral health in North Carolina.

“Finding and implementing the methods to improve oral health is an essential step for the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians,” said Sean Kerns, vice president Specialty Markets for BCBSNC. “We are honored to support these organizations as they develop their solutions.”

The Cabarrus Health Alliance (Kannapolis, N.C.) Cabarrus County’s local health department and largest dental provider for the indigent in the community, proposed a solution to reduce frequent dental Emergency Room visits. CHA is seeking the creation of a comprehensive referral model that connects patients admitted for dental related needs with a dental home, education and community resources. The team sees the potential of replicating this project across the state in local health departments and hospitals, thus improving the system of care and reducing costs for North Carolinians.

The Early Childhood Education, Dental Assisting, and Dental Hygiene Programs of Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, N.C.) presented a solution for improving preschool oral health education. The dental education program is designed for young children, their families and child care workers to raise awareness of dental health starting at an early age and create a friendly image of a dental visit. The departments will form a curriculum for oral health care training including role-playing dental health routines such as brushing teeth and visiting the dentist. In addition, the children receive dental care at the CPCC's dental hygiene clinic.

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health with Melanie Raskin (Chapel Hill, N.C.) a team who collaborated on producing three separate videos and supporting materials to improve the oral health of low-income, preschool-aged children in North Carolina. The team seeks to expand their work to improve preschool oral health by providing early childhood educators with the most current oral health information in a variety of media to accommodate all types of learners.  They intend to create a dynamic, easy-to-access, attractive website for early childhood educators.

The Oral Health Initiative was launched in April inviting industry professionals and university students to submit their solutions to better oral health practices throughout the state. Submissions focused on three areas: increasing access to dental sealants for at-risk children, reducing dental emergency room visits and improving preschool oral health education. The Initiative attracted 24 submissions from individuals and organizations across North Carolina.


About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.74 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For generations, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina was recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute in 2012 and 2013. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit BCBSNC online at All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

About Bull City Forward:
Bull City Forward is a community effort working to dramatically increase the creation, scale, and impact of social enterprises in Durham, NC. We are guided by the conviction that in purposefully recruiting, enabling, and scaling social enterprises and socially driven entrepreneurs, Durham can create a robust cluster of innovation for the region that will spur economic development, improve the lives of citizens, and produce a new model of urban development. Thus, the mission is “to enable entrepreneurs to create positive change.”

About IEI:
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is dedicated to North Carolina’s future competitiveness. By supporting collaboration among individuals from all sectors and areas of the state, IEI builds an enduring capacity for