Expert Profile

Shelly Gehshan

Director, Children's Dental Health
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Shelly Gehshan is director of children’s dental policy at Pew. She supervises the project’s work with states to expand access to prevention and treatment for children through policy changes in Medicaid, sealant programs, community water fluoridation, and the dental workforce.

As the lead on Pew’s work to improve children’s access to dental care and their overall oral health, Gehshan manages a broad research agenda that highlights both the scope of the problems and the most cost-effective, evidence-based solutions. She speaks frequently on the subjects of an expanded dental workforce and the benefits of community water fluoridation. She also helped lawmakers in Minnesota draft the nation’s first state law licensing dental therapists. She served on the Institute of Medicine panel that released a major report in 2011 on the dental access problem.

Prior to joining Pew, Gehshan spent nearly 20 years working for state policy makers on a range of issues affecting low-income women and children, such as oral health, behavioral health, reproductive health, service delivery and health care financing through Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs.

Gehshan has a master’s degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Reports & Publications

May 25, 2012

For Many, the Answer Is Not the Dentist’s Chair (Spring 2012 Trust Magazine Briefly Noted)

A report by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign analyzes the trend of an increasing number of Americans who seek out dental care at emergency rooms.

May 23, 2011

The State of Children’s Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter

The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign works with states to improve access to care and reach more children with proven forms of prevention.

February 17, 2011

Children's Dental Shortages Fuel Major Access Problem

The issue brief "Two Kinds of Dental Shortages Fuel One Major Access Problem" by the Pew Children's Dental Campaign highlights the lack of access to dental care. Each year, an estimated 17 million children in the U.S. go without basic dental care. As a result, these kids miss more days of school and see their overall health suffer.


December 6, 2010

It Takes a Team: How New Dental Providers Can Benefit Patients and Practices

A new report from the Pew Center on the States finds that most private-practice dentists who hire new types of dental providers can improve or maintain their financial bottom line while serving more patients, including more Medicaid enrollees.

September 20, 2010

The Minnesota Story: How Advocates Secured the First State Law of Its Kind Expanding Children’s Access to Dental Care

The Minnesota Story is a new brief from the Pew Children's Dental Health campaign which explains how children’s and public health advocates in Minnesota campaigned successfully for a law to increase children’s access to dental care. The new law is likely to ensure that dental care will reach many kids who are underserved and is the first step in efforts that could gain traction across the country.

February 23, 2010

The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children

States play a key role in ensuring that low-income children have access to basic, preventive dental care. A new report, The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children, finds that two-thirds of states are doing a poor job.

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News Room

April 26, 2012

Kids Winding Up in ER for Advanced Dental Care

Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign, is quoted in a Scripps News article about the increasing number of Americans that go to hospitals for dental care.

November 15, 2011

Pew Applauds California Vote to Fluoridate, Urges Policy Makers to Be Guided by Sound Science

The board of the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted 6-0 in support of fluoridating the water it supplies to the city and several bedroom communities of San Jose, giving 280,000 additional Californians access to fluoridated water. Pew supported the efforts of its California partner, The Health Trust, to build awareness of the community’s oral health needs and share the overwhelming evidence showing fluoridation’s benefits.

May 23, 2011

The State of Children’s Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter

The state that children call home can make a big difference in the health of their teeth.  In this year’s 50-state report card by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, 27 states earned grades of an A or B, while 23 states and the District of Columbia received a C or lower grade. However, the 2011 grades for 22 states were higher than their 2010 grades, revealing that even in a time of fiscal distress, dental health policies can be improved.


April 28, 2010

Pew Urges Congress to Fund Reforms Meant to Improve Children’s Dental Health

The Pew Center on the States issues a statement urging congressional leaders to fund dental care measures in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

March 11, 2009

Testimony of Shelly Gehshan Before the Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Housing and Family Security

Testimony by Shelly Gehshan on SF 1106 to the Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Housing and Family Security.

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