Diverse Partnerships Are the Key to Improving Oral Health for People with Chronic Diseases

As NACDD’s “Partner Actions to Improve Oral Health Outcomes project comes to an end, NACDD will be posting web-based and digital success stories on its oral health landing page that documents the work that has been done by five State Health Departments (CO, CT, ND, SC, and VA) to implement medical-dental projects with their partners. The work of one of these states, Colorado, will also be featured during a General Member Webinar on August 22.

Funding for the five featured states and NACDD was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health. The projects clearly demonstrates that state health departments have a role to play in increasing awareness about the impact that poor oral health has on chronic disease and that being successful requires the development of new partnerships between oral health and chronic disease programs and their corresponding community partners. Each of the states took different approaches to achieve similar goals.

Colorado: Worked with five Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and non-FQHC clinics to implement the Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Oral Health Integration Project (DCVDOHI) project. The clinics increased diabetes and cardiovascular disease screening, bi-directional referral, and clinical workflow improvements.

Connecticut: Worked with the state’s largest FQHC to deliver training and implement protocols for medical and dental providers to screen patients with pre-diabetes for follow-up assessments and referral to an in-house CDC-recognized lifestyle change program.

North Dakota: Worked with nine clinic partners (Free Clinic, FQHCs, and private dental practices) to screen adult patients for undiagnosed or uncontrolled hypertension and refer them to a primary care provider and/or  community pharmacy for follow up.

South Carolina: Worked with the state’s four Regional Health Coordinators to promote the Oral Health and Diabetes Medical Dental Integration (OHD-MDI) project. They expanded their existing oral health networks and integrated oral health messages into educational outreach activities for people with diabetes.

Virginia: Created a cohort of free and charitable medical and dental clinics, including referral protocols, to increase access to oral services and activated CHW’s across the state to promote the link between poor oral health and chronic disease.

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