What is Mouth Care Matters?

Mouth Care Matters (MCM) is a one-day specialty training in the area of oral care. MCM was originally designed for home care, hospice, and nurse aides; personal assistants; patient care technicians; and direct support professionals, but the program is also suitable for other health and long term service and support (LTSS) staff including licensed nurses. Family caregivers may also benefit from the training. Taught by dental hygienists who are certified instructors, the program offers practical hands-on skills on how to provide the best oral care possible for Iowans of all ages and abilities. One of the greatest take-aways by participants is “a greater understanding about the link between a healthy mouth and one’s overall health and well-being.” 

MCM is one of three major grant initiatives of the Lifelong Smiles Coalition and funded by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation (DDIAF).  The other two initiatives are I-Smile™ Silver and the establishment of the Office of Education and Training within the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, all with the common goal of increasing access to oral health for older Iowans who are homebound or residents in a nursing home. Contact Mary Ann Young at or  l 515-223-2805 for more information.

Mouth Care Matters Highlights Volume 2; Spring 2018
Learn more about the project’s status, lessons learned, and recommendations for increasing access.

Why Mouth Care Matters (MCM)! A one hour in-service

·         A one-hour oral health in-service

·         Presented by certified MCM Instructors

·         Learn why good oral health is important to overall health

·         Learn more about MCM

·         Provided by Iowa CareGivers, as funding permits


Iowa CareGivers’ (IC) “Mouth Care Matters” (MCM) Classes

  • 8-hour class for direct care staff
  • Classroom instruction and hands-on practice
  • Taught by certified MCM instructors
  • Learn to identify common oral health problems
  • Learn basic oral care and various approaches
  • Learn how oral care impacts one’s overall health
  • Iowa CareGivers’-issued certificate with permanent records maintained for portability

MCM classes are available to direct care staff, as well as to nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, social workers, supervisory staff, case managers, and others.  Classes are available at a variety of venues. 


Brush Up On Your Oral Care Skills!

REGISTER NOW for the FREE Mouth Care Matters Oral Health Education class in Davenport!

September 18, 2018
Eastern Iowa Community College – Davenport

Click here for more information.
Click here to register.


Oral Health Articles

Click below to learn more about good oral care as highlighted in seven (7) short articles, written by Carol Van Aernam, Registered Dental Hygienist. They are a great resource and can be reprinted in your organization’s newsletter or share with people served, employees, family caregivers, and others in your community.

·         Why Oral Care is Important

·         Dry Mouth: (Xerostomia)

·         Bad Breath

·         Daily Oral Care and Flossing = Infection Control

·         Dementia and Oral Care

·         Toothbrushes

·         Dentures


Provided by:

Focus Areas:

  • Oral Health for Caregivers
  • Approaches for Providing Oral Hygiene Care
  • Helpful Techniques for Oral Hygiene Care


Who Are Those Masked Mouth Care Matters Instructors!!??

25 Mouth Care Matters Instructors and Iowa CareGivers staff and consultants spent yesterday discussing the current status of the Mouth Care Matters program and making plans for the future.   

It was a great day with lots of great ideas shared. 

Kudos to all! And thanks to Julie McMahon for facilitating. 

Stay tuned! 

See the photo gallery!


Delta Dental of Iowa and Mouth Care Matters

Educating on the oral health needs of older Iowans. Mouth Care Matters (MCM), administered by Iowa CareGivers, is an initiative of the Lifelong Smiles Coalition and supported in part by the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. Since 2014, the Foundation has provided more than $284,000 to support program development and implement training throughout the state.

Click here to learn more.


Dental Hygienist Students Display Mouth Care Matters and I-Smile Silver Programs During IDHA Poster Session

Emma Degner and Savanna Snyder and Savanna Snyder, future dental hygienists, and students at Iowa Central Community College Dental Hygiene Program developed and presented, at the Iowa Dental Hygienist’s Association’s conference, a poster that featured information about the Mouth Care Matters and I-Smile Silver programs.  The two initiatives of the Lifelong Smiles Coalition are funded by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and other supporters.


Oral Health Workshop Well-received at May 2, 2018 LeadingAge Conference

Carole Ferch, I-Smile Silver Coordinator for Scott County and Carol Van Aernam, Iowa CareGivers Consultant, presented a workshop about the importance of good oral care on overall health, approaches to delivering oral care, and identifying normal and abnormal conditions of the mouth.  The presenters are registered dental hygienists and Mouth Care Matters certified instructors. 

Lifelong Smiles Coalition and Mouth Care Matters (MCM) Co-present at 2018 Governor’s Conference on Public Health

Lifelong Smiles Coalition is a multi-stakeholder coalition that shares a common goal of assuring access to optimal oral health so that successful aging can occur. The initiative, led by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation (DDIAF), also funded 3 major grant projects including Mouth Care Matters (MCM), an oral health specialty training for those who work in direct care; the I Smile Silver program; and the University of Iowa College of Dentistry’s Office of Education and Training. Representatives of the Coalition and the MCM project co-presented during the Governor’s Conference on Public Health. 

Contributors Step Up To Fund Mouth Care Matters Class In Davenport

We thank the Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA) for their financial support, and for their role in recruiting an excellent team of hygienists who have become Mouth Care Matters (MCM) instructors and thank them for their support. Learn more

Mary Ann Young’s commitment to MCM is unwavering. As Manager of the Mouth Care Matters project, she has immersed herself into the project, building relationships, and promoting the program. We extend a heartfelt thank you to Mary Ann, her husband, Bill, and sister, Karen, for their generous donation in memory of their parents, Maizie and Max Hollander, and we extend our condolences for the recent loss of their father. Thank you!!

These two contributions will make possible another Mouth Care Matters class, scheduled for
September 18, 2018  in Davenport, IA.
Eastern Iowa Community College
West Davenport Center

2950 N Fairmount St.
Davenport, IA 52804

Please watch our website for more details.


14 More Mouth Care Matters Instructors Join the Corps 

Thanks to the University of Iowa College of Dentistry for Their Sponsorship and to Des Moines Area Community College for Donating the Space. None of this would be possible without the support of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and the Lifelong Smiles Coalition.

Click here to view the full photo gallery!


Nursing and Other Staff Find Mouth Care Matters Class Beneficial — Hosted by Senior Housing Management Corporation

When asked what changes they would make in their personal work activities to address the delivery of oral care, responses included:

  •  Discuss oral care with all residents themselves, watch 1-1 mouth care
  • Notify families of poor oral hygiene
  • Go to the dentist
  • Closer evaluation
  • Start being proactive in oral care
  •  More checks
  • Oral assessment/delegations
  • I want to schedule time to take each aide to practice oral care to our memory care residents
  • Education, role-playing
  • Training
  • Staff training, reminders
  • Delegation of oral care

100% said the program was excellent or very good

100% said the training enhanced their knowledge about the link between oral health and one’s overall health and well-being.

100% said the training better prepared them to support other staff under their supervision and/or co-workers in providing good oral care.

Special Thanks to Mary Kelly and Carol Van Aernam, Mouth Care Matters Instructors and to Iowa Valley Community College for Providing Nursing CEUs. Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown may be hosting another Mouth Care Matters class in the future.  

See photo gallery!

3 Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters Graduates Featured at IALA Conference

Three Senior Housing Management Direct Care Professionals who recently graduated from Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters shared their experiences and opinions about the training during the Iowa Assisted Living Association’s Annual Conference and some of their quotes are referenced below. Kudos to all! 


“I learned more through Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters than I did through the CNA training. The Mouth Care Matters slides grossed me out, but because of the training, I was able to comfort an agitated individual who was in hospice care simply by cleaning the individual’s mouth.”  Thomas Anderson


“The Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters programs teach them (direct care staff) to think outside the box.”  Lee Hogg, Healthcare Coordinator, Country Meadow Place, Mason City


“Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters give us the confidence to do the job more effectively, and to better serve our residents and their families.”  Audra Randles


“I got my CNA through a high school class, but Prepare to Care and Mouth Care Matters is different from the CNA class because it gets deeper into the training and includes information on ethics and professionalism.”  Cierra Johnson


Mouth Care Matters: A Pilot Project With Promise

Mouth Care Matters is the first state-recognized, competency-based specialty under the Prepare to Care curriculum in the area of oral health care.  Those who successfully complete the training receive a state-issued certificate.

To get a glimpse into the highlights of the first two years of the project, please click here.


Mouth Care Matters Evaluation Yields Positive Results

Click here for Mouth Care Matters Executive Summary

Click here for Mouth Care Matters Full Evaluation Report



Congrats to KPACE Students that Graduated from Mouth Care Matters 

Kirkwood Community College

Congrats to KPACE Students that Graduated from Mouth Care Matters  --  Kirkwood Community College

We wish all graduates the best in their future classes. 
May you find employment that you love!


What is KPACE? 

KPACE is a career pathway training program designed to help individuals earn credentials in increments; enabling students options along the training pathway to either seek employment using the credential earned or to continue training, earning additional credentials that increase their earning potential. The program is intended to assist students in earning credentials in high-demand industries for the purpose of obtaining gainful employment after training. Students in PACE programming receive customized academic, career, and personal supports through a Pathway Navigator to assist them in successfully completing training, earning a credential and obtaining employment.


Mouth Care Matters Class at DMACC Southridge a Success!

Des Moines Area Community College hosted the most recent MCM class at its Southridge campus. Big thanks to our instructors Mary Kelly, Carol Hooper, and Carol Van Aernam. Congratulations to our newest group of graduates!

Click here to view the full photo gallery.


NICC Dubuque Hosts Mouth Care Matters (MCM) Class 

"The Mouth Care Matters training was excellent. The information was very valuable in terms of taking back the information to our place of employment and putting it to use in our profession as caregivers."

Fran Mancl, Certified Nursing Assistant, Stonehill Franciscan

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Dubuque hosted its first MCM Class!  It was a great class and thanks to the students, NICC, and Linda Rowe, Nancy Miller, and Carol Van Aernam, Dental Hygienists, and MCM instructors! 

Click here to see the photo gallery!



Kirkwood Mouth Care Matters Graduates! 

Congratulations to 12 new Kirkwood Community College students and 2 direct care professionals from Meth Wick who learn about the importance of ensuring that they and those they serve receive good oral care.

Students Have Fun Testing the Effectiveness of Brushing Teeth Using Pink Disclosing Solution

Click here to view the full photo gallery.

Mouth Care Matters in Marshalltown 

Congrats to grads at Iowa Valley Community College!

Click here to see the full photo gallery.


Mouth Care Matters (MCM) Graduates Promote Program at Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association Annual Meeting

Sally Chapman and Donna Cheers, Hospice Aides with HCI/VNS (Creston Iowa Area), take time from their busy schedules to attend, on behalf of Iowa CareGivers, the Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association’s Annual Meeting in Cedar Rapids to promote the MCM training.

MCM is a one-day oral health course for those in direct care.  IT is an initiative of the Lifelong Smiles Coalition and funded by Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, and Iowa Department of Public Health.


20 From Warren County Public Health and Senior Housing Management Embrace Mouth Care Matters! CONGRATS! 

Click here to view Photo Gallery

95% of attendees indicated that taking Mouth Care Matters contributed to the likelihood they will stay in the field of direct care and with their current employer.

“After struggling with the use of temp agencies, implementing referral-based bonuses, new employee appreciation incentives, and advertising employment on everything but water and air, we think we're finally on the right track to developing and growing a class of “prepared” and reliable health care employees through a partnership with local colleges.  With this free training, coupled with tuition reimbursement, a competitive wage, lucrative 401k program and full benefits, we have seen an uptick in employee development and a genuine interest and passion in their day to day routines.” Kayle Jenson, Senior Housing Management

Mouth Care Matters Training to Be Piloted With Family Caregivers 

Carol Van Aernam, Dental Hygienist demonstrates to Ann Black, AARP Iowa and Kay Vanags, Family Caregiver program, and partners in the effort, an approach to assisting an individual with brushing their teeth. I Smile Silver will also serve as a resource to family caregivers in the mini-pilot.


Mouth Care Matters Graduates Host Exhibit

Donna Cheers (left), Sally Chapman (right), Hospice Aides, HCI, with Carol Van Aernam, Lifelong Smiles Coalition member and Mouth Care Matters instructor (far right), hosted an exhibit for the Lifelong Smiles Coalition and Mouth Care Matters during the Iowa Dental Hygienist’s Association’s conference at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Ankeny.  They were able to share, first-hand, the value of the Mouth Care Matters training. Thanks Donna and Sally!

Click Here for Photo Gallery


TWO MORE YEARS!  Thanks to Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation (DDIAF) and Mid-Iowa Health Foundation (MIHF) and Iowa Public Health Foundation (IDPH) Through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement (#DP13-1307)

L to R (top):  Dr. Bob Russell, Suzanne Heckenlaible, and Jeff Russell, all of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation; Carol Van Aernam, Maribel Slinde, Pam Biklen, and Mary Ann Young, all of Iowa CareGivers; and Dr. Jeff Chaffin, Delta Dental.

Click here to read Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation’s news release

L to R (bottom):  Katie Foley, Intern, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation (center) pictured with Mary Ann Young (left), and Pam Biklen (right), Iowa CareGivers

Click here to read Mid-Iowa Health Foundation’s news release


Public Radio Features Mouth Care Matters

WVIK News - Quad Cities National Public Radio (NPR) shared highlights about Mouth Care Matters with listeners!

Click here for story.

More Mouth Care Matters Students to Applaud!

Candeo Takes On Mouth Care Matters Training! 

Click here to see the photo gallery.


Ottumwa Job Corps Adds Mouth Care Matters to Their Program

Click here to see the photo gallery.

Mouth Care Matters Resources

Mouth Care Matters Direct Care Professional, click here
Mouth Care Matters General Public Flyer, click here
Mouth Care Matters Employer Flyer, click here

Important Note: Individuals must first successfully complete the 6-hour Prepare to Care Core training before enrolling in the Mouth Care Matters class.  We highly recommend that those interested take the Core as soon as they can in order to be ready to sign up for Mouth Care Matters classes when they become available.  Call or email Mary Ann Young if you have questions at

Congratulations To 97 Direct Care Workers Completing Mouth Care Matters Oral Health Specialty Training!!


Ankeny Class photo gallery #1

Ankeny Class photo gallery #2

Boone Class photo gallery #1

Boone Class photo gallery #2

Carroll Class photo gallery

Newton Class photo gallery


DMACC Supports Mouth Care Matters

"DMACC is dedicated to the education and support of direct care professionals. DMACC strives to meet the needs of the community and we know this is a huge need." - Jaime Haub



23 Dental Hygienists Became Mouth Care Matters’ Instructors

Twenty-three dental hygienists completed the Mouth Care Matters Oral Health Specialty Instructor Training, developed and taught by Drs. Anita Stineman and Howard Cowen, University of Iowa Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry respectively.


Mouth Care Matters Milestone Reception Held To Congratulate New Instructors

To celebrate this project milestone a reception, sponsored by DMACC, was held for curriculum developers, funders, instructors, Life Long Smiles Coalition members, and other supporters. Thank you to everyone who joined in the celebration and congrats to the new instructor Grads!

Click here to view photos of the Reception


Oral Health Campaign Pilot Begins  
Oral Health Campaign Planning Committee

Pictured L to R: (front) Shonna Partelow, Wesley; Danielle Bloxham, Wesley;  (back) Carly Nelson, Madrid; April Elsberry, Madrid; Danielle Walters, Madrid; Sadie Fuson, Madrid; Teresa Pena, Madrid; Sue Hyland, dental hygienist. Not pictured: Carol Van Aernam, dental hygienist; MaryAnn Young, Iowa CareGivers; Pam Biklen, Iowa CareGivers

As part of the Mouth Care Matters project, Madrid Home Communities and Wesley helped plan and conduct an oral health campaign within their organizations. A committee, with representatives from each organization led by two dental hygienists and Iowa CareGivers staff, developed materials and programs for the campaign that could easily be modified and implemented into any setting.  Madrid and Wesley staff and residents participated in several activities highlighting oral health, including educational articles, posters, in-services and more!  The purpose was to simply raise attention to the importance of oral health because “there is no health without oral health.”* *Surgeon General, Report on Oral Health, 2000