Bobbi Jo Muto, RDH

March 21, 2012

Bobbi Jo Muto’s passion for working with underserved populations was sparked almost 20 years ago after seeing first-hand the dire need for oral health care in her state, West Virginia.

Bobbi Jo Muto’s passion for working with underserved populations was sparked almost 20 years ago after seeing first-hand the dire need for oral health care in her state, West Virginia.

“I did a rotation where I worked with an underserved  population in a rural area,” she said. “I saw how oral health care wasn’t a priority. There wasn’t the education. Underserved populations didn’t realize how a lack of oral health care affects overall health or even affects getting a job.”  

Bobbi Jo currently serves as community oral health coordinator for the Department of Family & Community Health at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University.

West Virginia’s high rate of edentulism, poor oral health statewide and not being eligible for Centers for Disease Control funding for oral health care because it didn’t have an oral health care plan prompted Bobbi Jo to advocate for state legislation focused on oral health and improving access.

The state is starting to see results from these efforts. It now has a state oral health plan, has expanded the scope of practice for dental professionals, is in the process of hiring a full-time dental director and is beginning to address objectives listed in the oral health plan. Working with groups with conflicting agendas was a great challenge in achieving an oral health plan.

“It isn’t always easy to get everyone to play nice, to see that this isn’t about them, it’s about the children, the state and overall health of our population,” Bobbi Jo said.

Bobbi Jo also has helped implement a Basic Screening Survey, a system established by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and CDC to collect oral health data on West Virginia’s children, and a Web-based data collection system for the state’s school-based oral health programs.  She is married and the mother of three children ages 12, 10 and 7.

Despite the obstacles in doing public health work, “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Bobbi Jo said.