Promoting Medical-Dental Integration

August 2021 Impact Brief

NACDD Expands its Commitment to Promoting the Connection Between Oral Health and Chronic Disease by Identifying Successful Approaches for Medical-Dental Integration

In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Oral Health (DOH) funded NACDD to develop a national framework for medical-dental integration (MDI) in collaboration with KDH Research and Communications (KDHRC). The goal of the MDI project is to find and promote successful models of integrated medical and dental services in a variety of settings including public health, education, and healthcare systems. This project complements the work that NACDD is already doing with the five states (CO, CT, ND, SC, and VA) that have funding through DP18-1810 Component 2 to document and promote promising models of collaboration between state oral health and chronic disease programs and their partners.

In 2000, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General unequivocally confirmed that oral health is essential to overall health. It noted that poor oral health is a contributing factor to, and a symptom and consequence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

During year one of this two-year project, a Steering Committee made up of subject matter experts from academic, clinical, healthcare, and public health settings was assembled to help inform the project. Steering Committee members supplied feedback and guidance on various aspects of a systematic review of the literature which resulted in the identification of over 700 peer reviewed articles documenting a variety of approaches to medical-dental integration and their impact on overall health. A review of state oral health and state chronic disease plans was also conducted in addition to a review of the grey literature. Key informant interviews with individuals working in the various ‘buckets’ that emanated from the literature review is taking place this summer/early fall and will inform what has already been documented in the literature.

In July 2021, the SantaFe Group (an action-oriented think tank with a passion to improve lives through oral health), invited NACDD and CDC to partner with them to plan and host an Action Planning Summit in March 2022 that will discuss an action-oriented framework for promoting medical-dental integration. This in-person meeting will be invitation-only and will include a diverse group of individuals, organizations, and health industry representatives working in oral health, chronic disease, primary care, and public health. We expect publication of the recommendations from the meeting to ensure widespread distributing and uptake.

NACDD is excited to lead this work, in collaboration with CDC and KDHRC, to find models and approaches that can be replicated to effectively integrate oral health and chronic disease prevention strategies and protocols, particularly in public health and healthcare delivery settings that serve high-risk and underserved populations who have limited access to services from medical and dental care providers.

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