Our goal of optimal oral health has us focused on four important systems -- Policy, Funding, Care and Community. The DentaQuest Foundation believes that there is great opportunity for improvement and impact in the interplay of these key systems. Here are some examples of how we are implementing this strategy.
ADA Endorses National Oral Health Curriculum
The American Dental Association (ADA) has endorsed Smiles for Life, a national online oral health curriculum for primary care providers. Funded by the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (NIIOH), the Smiles for Life curriculum is designed by and for primary care clinicians to learn about and promote oral health. The free curriculum offers opportunities for clinicians to learn about and prioritize oral health as well as to partner effectively with each other. The endorsement was announced during the NIIOH 2012 Symposium on Oral Health and Primary Care, Oct. 7-9, 2012, in Leesburg, Va. “With physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other members of the primary care team joining the fight for oral health, we have a real chance to eradicate the silent epidemic of dental disease,” said Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director. “The dental profession looks favorably on the engagement of primary care clinicians who have contact with patients of all ages since they can greatly impact dental disease firsthand.”
Oral Health in the Patient Centered Medical Home
The Funders Oral Health Policy Group (FOHPG) commissioned the Qualis Group to study options to meet the oral health needs of the underserved population. FOHPG had identified a number of key drivers, resources and emerging models supporting a more optimal, integrated medical-dental care framework. The resulting white paper, Oral Health Integration in the Patient-Centered Medical Home Environment, explores community health center medical/dental collaboration efforts and documents four community health center case studies where steps have been taken to have the medical and dental delivery systems work more closely together to incorporate oral health in their quality improvement processes. Additional funding for the white paper was provided by the REACH Healthcare Foundation. The report was prepared by Bonni Brownlee, MHA CPHQ CPEHR, Director, Quality Improvement and Compliance Consulting Services, Qualis Health, Seattle Washington, and also director of the REACH Medical Home Initiative in Kansas City. Additional funding was provided by the REACH Healthcare Foundation.
Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers
This report summarizes the current state of oral health in Pennsylvania and makes recommendations for improvement. Among proposed improvements are educating communities on the importance of oral health cae, train medical and dental providers, increase access to fluoridated water, incrase application of fluoride varnish by medical professionals, increase reimbursement for oral health services, and permit dental providers to work at the top of their licensure scope. This multi-pronged approach will address the fundamental problem of acess to oral health care for Pennsylvanians, and particularly for vulnerable Pennsylvanians.
North Dakota Tribes Come Together For the First Time To Address Access to Oral Care
It was a first and exceeded the organizers' expectations.Representatives from all the state's tribal communities -- the Manda, Hidatsa, the Arikara Nations, Spirit Lake Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Indians, Standing Rock Sioux Nation and Trenton Indian Services Area were there. This powerful convening in North Dakota considered oral health for their communities and shared information and concepts for improvements. The meeting was the culmination of work by the North Dakota Oral Health 2014 grantee, spearheaded by the North Dakota Department of Public Health. The year long Oral Health 2014 planning grant helped make possible collaboration with a multi-dimensional partnership designed to engage leaders in the development of an oral health action plan to address increased delivery of care to populations that have had difficulty finding access to that care. "Each Reservation sent a diverse group of organizations to participate in the workshop," said grant manager Bobbie WIll. "They discovered through our workshop how they can work together to improve oral health education and prevention. It was beautiful to see plans form for collaboration to move oral health forward when they return to their reservations." The final report, including presentations and learnings, can be found here.
Arizona Tribal Leaders Commit to Improving Oral Health
Native Americans are among the most underserved populations in Arizona in terms of oral health care and are disproportionately impacted by oral disease. Tribal leaders and others concerned with the health of American Indians living in Arizona came together in 2010 to address this issue. The Arizona Dental Foundation, an Oral Health 2014 grantee, convened a series of regional Tribal Leaders' Round Tables at which creating a statewide American Indian Oral Health Coalition was identified as a priority. To learn more, read the status report on the formation of a statewide coalition (2012).
HRiA Champions Community Water Fluoridation
It’s a fact, plain and simple. Fluoridated drinking water helps decrease the incidence of tooth decay resulting in better community oral health. Yet, in a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three New England states – Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire – ranked among the least fluoridated in the Nation. In Massachusetts, only fifty percent of the population has access to fluoridated water at the CDC’s recommended level and New Hampshire, 42 of 50 states, has the lowest percentage in the region. We have a ways to go here in New England,” admitted Catherine Hayes, DMD, Dr.Med.Sc. director of special projects at Health Resources in Action. A national expert and noted author on the controversial topic, Dr. Hayes is cited frequently in the media, explaining the scientific studies that back up water fluoridation while dispelling anecdotal mistruths against it. Along with Jodie Silverman, MPA, she is spearheading the Community Water Fluoridation Initiative, a HRiA public health campaign aimed at building support for fluoridation through an innovative approach that includes both social marketing and community mobilization. Funded by a grant from the DentaQuest Foundation, the initiative will develop new strategies and tools that can be used across the United States to mobilize communities in favor of community water fluoridation. Read more.
Grantmakers in Health convened an Issues Dialogue, entitled Returning the Mouth to the Body: Integrating Oral Health and Primary Care in April in Washington. D.C to further discussion amongst funders on the subject of oral health. The DentaQuest Foundation was the lead funder of the dialogue. Though highlighted as a “silent epidemic” by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2000, widespread, untreated dental disease continues to plague children and adolescents, low-income families and ethnic minorities, who experience the heaviest disease burden. The concept of coordinating and perhaps even integrating oral health into primary care, reverses the traditional divide that has separated the mouth from the whole body.
The Oral Health 2014 Initiative is “advancing local leaders for national Impact. This multiyear initiative, launched in 2011, is designed to build capacity within states to engage braod-based stakeholders, build common ground on needed improvements in oral health, and implement systems change. By focusing on local leaders, state and regional collaborations are fostered that incorporate the expertise of many points of view, from dentistry and primary care medicine, to faith-based organizations, public health and social service groups. Twenty grantees are developing strategies to spur oral health improvement locally, and ultimately provide a base for national support.