Creating Diverse Partnerships is a Key Strategy for Promoting Medical-Dental Integration

As part of our ongoing efforts to promote medical-dental integration among diverse partners, NACDD is working with five states (Colo., Conn., N.D., S.C., and V.a.) to document their approaches for building partnerships to increase coordination between medical and dental care for people with chronic diseases.

NACDD is in year four of a five-year project that is being funded by CDC’s Division of Oral Health, which was extended for a sixth year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The link between poor oral health and the effective management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease is well documented in the literature.

Increasing awareness about the impact that poor oral health has on chronic disease requires the development of new partnerships between oral health and chronic disease programs and their corresponding community partners.

Each of the five states being funded under the DP18-1810-Component 2 grant has leveraged their existing partnerships as well as developed new partnerships to expand their oral health networks.

  • Colorado’s Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Oral Health Integration (DCVDOHI) project is a clinical quality improvement model that was designed to ensure better care coordination in the clinical setting for patients with co-morbid conditions. This whole-person integrated approach is a promising practice where medical and dental services are either co-located or where bi-directional referral agreements are in place.
  • The Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Office of Oral Health and Diabetes Prevention and Control Program are working collaboratively with the state’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center  (FQHC) to develop bi-directional referral systems for children and adults that present with risk factors for obesity or prediabetes in the dental clinic.

  •  The North Dakota Department of Health’s Oral Health Program has partnered with private dental practices and several FQHC’s and safety net clinics to implement hypertension screening and referral protocols in dental settings.
  • South Carolina’s Oral Health and Diabetes Medical-Dental Integration (OHD-MDI) project is focused on partner education and training to improve the consistency, accuracy, and timeliness of oral health messaging in primary care settings for adults with diabetes.
  • The Virginia Department of Health Dental Program is partnering with internal and external partners to broaden their knowledge about the connection between oral health and overall health with a focus on individuals with chronic conditions that have unmet oral health needs.

The lessons learned during the implementation of these projects will help to inform promising and successful approaches that state oral health and chronic disease programs can take to close the gaps in care coordination between primary care and oral health in clinical settings.


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