Dentistry Outlook feat. Hawaii Dental Service
HDS continues its outreach to more families in 2023, paying special attention to improving access to quality oral health for everyone, especially those in underserved communities.
Q&A with Diane S.L. Paloma, PhD
President & CEO, HDS
Many of your customers and clients are facing huge challenges this year. What are those challenges and how can you help them?
Just when Hawai‘i families breathed a sigh of relief following the pandemic, they were pummeled with rising prices from inflation and supply-chain disruptions. Groceries and other necessities suddenly took a larger share of our wallets, exacerbating Hawai‘i’s already high cost of living.
Stress and mental health challenges are taking a toll on our oral health and our overall health and wellbeing. We grind our teeth in our sleep. We eat less healthfully, consuming more sugary foods to comfort us. We smile less and worry more.
A focus on oral health is more important than ever. HDS will continue its outreach to more families in 2023 to “Live Well, Smile More,” paying special attention to improving access to quality oral health for everyone, especially those in underserved communities.
What are some of your company’s most important (or interesting) projects and plans for 2023?
We are strengthening our partnerships with Hawai‘i’s employers, and encouraging their employees to take advantage of all of the benefits they are entitled to with incentives from SMILEWell, our innovative wellness program. New in 2023, HDS will be administering the contract to serve adults who are Medicaid beneficiaries. These adults will be able to enjoy a full spectrum of oral health care services for the first time in nearly 15 years, thanks to a new law signed last year.
Last year, the HDS Foundation, the charitable arm of HDS, gave more than a million dollars to nonprofit programs that prevent oral disease, support oral health
education, and improve access to oral health care. The foundation will continue this commitment in 2023 and support its signature Dentist by One and Kupuna Smiles programs that emphasize the value of oral health for keiki and kupuna.
What is your company’s biggest challenge in the coming year?
Our biggest challenge is helping the community, including those who have access to dental care, see there is a connection between their oral health and their overall health. You cannot neglect to take care of your teeth and gums and expect to enjoy optimal health. Poor oral health affects other parts of your body. Dental check-ups can catch problems early and avoid unnecessary pain and costly procedures, so employers can do their part to make oral health a priority for their employees.
900 Fort Street Mall, Suite 1900, Honolulu, HI 96813