Bulletin of Dental Education

Normandale Community College’s Dental Hygiene Program Hosts Oral Health Summit

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On Aug. 3, nearly 200 dental and nondental professionals attended a one-day event to learn more about the Minnesota 21st Century Dental Team and successful models to increase dental care access for all Minnesotans. 

Last year’s Smiles@School Summit, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health, focused on interconnecting children’s oral health and learning. This year, Oral Health Summit II expanded that conversation, focusing on the integration of medical and dental care using a Minnesota 21st Century Dental Team model. The event gathered stakeholders from all aspects of health care and shared examples of successful community programs that are improving dental care for Minnesota’s underserved populations. In addition to dental educators and representatives of the four dental professions in Minnesota, there were attendees from county public health departments, community health workers and navigators, county and school nurses, funders, program developers, community clinics, free clinics, the Minnesota Department of Health and others.

An overarching theme for the Summit was the impact of the recently passed Minnesota Statute 150A.10, Subd. 1a. The original legislation, enacted in 2001, provided for a collaborative practice delivery model that had been severely underutilized, due in part to statutory language that prevented full implementation of its core aims: increase access, improve health and reduce costs. The 2017 statutory changes strengthen the workforce opportunities as well as address barriers to full implementation, which supports dental hygienists working with underserved populations in community settings. The revised statute authorizes dental hygienists who hold a collaborative agreement with a dentist to provide dental care services in settings other than a traditional private practice dental office. It allows dental hygienists to provide direct access to their services in specified settings, such as schools, Head Start programs and long-term care facilities—locations that are convenient to patients. The proponents who successfully revised this legislation truly demonstrated the power of collective impact—diverse organizations coming together to solve a complex social problem. 

In addition to a lineup of national and state leaders who are passionate about access to care for all, the Summit featured a panel addressing the recent updates to the legislation. Representatives from Minnesota’s professional dental organizations, Board of Dentistry, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, and Oral Health Coalition served on the panel. Each representative answered questions about how his or her organization would support the collaborative dental hygiene practice mode, describing action steps the organization will take to expand access to oral health services in community settings and the organization’s vision for where this delivery model will be in five years. 

Now the work really begins. Normandale Community College dental hygiene faculty members, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Collaborative Practice Dental Hygiene Advisory Committee will move ahead, together, to continue the momentum built at the meeting. 

The Oral Health Summit II was made possible with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration and Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Visit the Normandale Community College website for the Summit agenda and videotape of the program.

Courtesy of Colleen M. Brickle, Ed.D., RDH, Dean, Health Sciences, Normandale Community College

Published on September 13, 2017

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