Our integrated oral health care model is used by states and counties to ensure more children are getting preventive dental care. 

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Low-income children are five times more likely to suffer from untreated tooth decay compared to children with greater means. This leads to suffering and health problems that can extend into adulthood, all of which can be easily prevented at an affordable cost. Our SmileConnect solution, an integrated care model, addresses this need by helping providers in the community coordinate dental care for children.

Our Approach

Altarum’s SmileConnect program is a scalable model that combines provider education, referral technology, and community integration to improve access to dental care. Here's how it works:

1) An accredited provider education program that helps primary care clinicians integrate preventive oral health exams and other basic dental care services, such as application of fluoride varnishes, into well-child visits.

2) Referral technology that makes it easy for primary care doctors and other community providers to refer children to nearby dentists who accept Medicaid and CHIP, and to track the care of their young patients.

3) community integration training program for community health workers to integrate oral health education and referrals into programs for children, such as WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. 


All three elements of the SmileConnect program have been implemented in communities across Michigan, resulting in nearly one million children covered by Medicaid or CHIP receiving earlier access to preventive oral health services, resources, and dental referrals. 

SmileConnect® Contact

Contact Us

Tara Fowler

Tara Fowler  - PhD, MPH, CPH

Director, Healthy Women and Children

Areas of Expertise
  • Applied Research and Analytics
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Qualitative Research

Tara leads a portfolio of work in children’s and women’s health, oral health, and nutrition. She has led a variety of multifaceted quantitative and qualitative research projects that deliver insights to leaders of government health agencies, from the Defense Health Agency to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her recent work includes an evaluation of a HRSA-funded program implemented in 16 states to improve oral health of low-income pregnant women and infants. Tara holds a PhD in public health from the University of South Florida.

Carley Kirk

Carley Kirk  - MS, RDH

Deputy Director, Healthy Women and Children

Areas of Expertise
  • Clinical Quality Improvement 
  • Medical Education
  • Children's Oral Health 

Carley leads Altarum's SmileConnect® program, an integrated care model that increases access of low-income children to oral health care through continuing medical education and technology that facilitates referrals and coordinates community dental health resources. Carley holds a master’s degree in health education and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan.