Bulletin of Dental Education

ADEA Supports National Oral Health Report

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"Mannheim Dental Care" by heraldpost on Flickr under CC licenseThe American Dental Education Association (ADEA) welcomes the release of Advancing Oral Health in America, the first of two new reports on oral health undertaken by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the report builds on and supplements the 2000 Surgeon General’s Report, Oral Health in America, and the National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health in 2003. ADEA is greatly encouraged by the seven recommendations included in the report that, as a whole, is referred to as the new Oral Health Initiative (NOHI).

“The IOM report is a clarion call to action, particularly in areas necessary for successfully maintaining oral health as a public health priority: strong leadership and the sustained interest and involvement of multiple stakeholders," said ADEA President Leo E. Rouse, D.D.S. “It tackles the challenges associated with health disparities and access to care while, at the same time, demonstrating an awareness of and sensitivity to disputed workforce issues. Likewise, it appropriately emphasizes the important role the federal government has in advancing the oral health of the nation.”

Advancing Oral Health in America provides support for ADEA’s priorities of highlighting the critical role of oral health in the overall health of the public and promoting the importance of research as the foundation of dental education and the science and practice of dentistry.

The report is organized on a set of principles that include, among others, establishing high-level accountability, enhancing the role of non-dental health care professionals, promoting collaboration among private and public stakeholders, and advancing the goals and objectives of Healthy People 2020. It emphasizes that HHS has the ability and the opportunity to play a vital role in the current oral health system.

Accordingly, Advancing Oral Health in America offers the following recommendations:

  1. The Secretary of HHS should give the NOHI leaders the authority and resources needed to successfully integrate oral health into the planning, programming, policy, and research that occurs across all HHS agencies and programs.
  2. All relevant HHS agencies should promote and monitor the use of evidence-based preventive services in oral health (both clinical and community-based) and counseling across the life span.
  3. All relevant HHS agencies should undertake oral health literacy and education efforts aimed at individuals, communities, and health care professionals.
  4. HHS should invest in workforce innovations to improve oral health that focus on core competency development, education, and training to allow for the use of all health care professionals in oral health care; interprofessional, team-based approaches to the prevention and treatment of oral diseases; better use of new and existing oral health care professionals; and increasing the diversity and improving the cultural competence of the workforce providing oral health care.
  5. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should explore new delivery and payment models for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to improve access, quality, and coverage of oral health care across the life span.
  6. HHS should place a high priority on efforts to improve open, actionable, and timely information to advance science and improve oral health care through research.
  7. To evaluate the NOHI, leaders should convene an annual public meeting of federal agency heads to report on progress.

Federal activities focused on oral health are seriously fragmented among various government agencies and programs. ADEA applauds the considered and realistic approach of Advancing Oral Health in America to improving coordination and integration of oral health programs throughout federal government. When successful, this effort will maximize limited resources to have the greatest impact.

ADEA believes Advancing Oral Health in America will appreciably heighten awareness of the importance and value of oral health. Like its predecessor, the Surgeon General’s report, it will inevitably raise the profile of oral health among the public, policymakers, and elected officials. That will be, in itself, a significant achievement.

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