How OHP’s Hospital Program meets community needs

August 17, 2023

The OHP hospital program treats our most serious dental cases.

What is a hospital dental program?

Around 5% of the kids we treat are referred by an OHP dentist to our Hospital Program. The kids are put under by an anesthesiologist in the hospital operating room (OR), and we can do all the needed treatment at once. This can include intense cleanings to remove severe plaque, fixing teeth damaged by decay and pulling teeth that cannot be saved.

Why do dental treatments under general anesthesia?

Extreme plaque and tooth decay on a Hospital Program patient.

Heavy plaque and decay on a Hospital Program patient.

The children that go through our Hospital Program are initially seen by an OHP dentist and then referred into the program because of severe decay and oral health issues. This is often combined with them being very young and sometimes there are behavioral or physical concerns that make it hard for kids to tolerate or corporate for multiple clinical visits. The average age of a child in our program is four years old. Going through the Hospital Program is less stressful and traumatic for the child and their family. It is also faster, and we can get them on the road to good oral health and out of pain much sooner.


“The biggest thing, though, is my kid doesn’t cry when she eats anymore. She used to just cry and cry. OHP gave us our life back. It’s just simple little things, you wouldn’t think it would affect everyday life, but it does.”
Mom of OHP Hospital Program Patient

Meeting community needs – and getting children pain-free

In the last ten years, we have treated over 3,200 kids in our Hospital Program. That’s thousands of kids that can go about life with less pain. Many families report drastic changes in children after their procedures. They talk more, they are happier and they eat better.

Some parents and guardians have noted that the oral health and nutritional education they learned regarding their child going through our Hospital Program led to changes for the entire family.

We do have a waitlist for kids needing to be treated in hospital. As of 2023, we are only one of a few dental organizations that take Medicaid and offer a hospital program in Wisconsin. Many of the kids in our program are not regular OHP patients, but referrals from outside clinics that cannot get kids the treatment they need.

OHP’s hospital program is thriving

At the beginning of 2023, our hospital waitlist was just shy of 300 kids. In March, we had our busiest month ever and treated an additional 12 kids alongside the usual 28 we treat in a month. Our hospital program is dependent on the generosity of local hospitals and being able to get OR time for our team. The OHP Hospital Program Manager, Nicole, is constantly working with the patients, OHP team and ORs to be able to get kids scheduled for treatment as soon as possible.

Our waitlist has been steadily coming down, and we are grateful for all the partners that have helped us accomplish that, but the need is still there. Each day we see more kids that could benefit from our hospital program, and we want to get all kids to good dental health. By getting kids the care they need to have a healthy smile and the education to stay healthy, we are getting them on the path to a life with less pain and fewer dental visits!