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Healthy People 2020: Using Law and Policy to Promote the Use of Oral Health Services in the United States

Good oral health is essential to overall health and well-being, but oral health problems are common. More than 4 in 5 people have had at least one cavity by age 34, and more than 2 in 5 adults have had mouth pain in the past year.

And yet less than half of the population uses the oral health care system. Many common oral health problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and jaw disorders are preventable with regular oral care. But many people who need this care face barriers, which means they aren’t able to get the care they need.

This is a summary of the report, Oral Health: The Role of Law and Policy in Increasing the Use of Oral Health Services, which is the fifth in a series of reports that highlights the practical application of law and policy to improve health across the Nation. Each report also has success stories, or Bright Spots, that show how communities use laws and policies to meet their health goals and achieve Healthy People Oral Health targets.

This report presents evidence-based and promising law and policy solutions that community and tribal leaders, government officials, public health professionals, health care providers, lawyers, and social service providers can use in their own communities. These solutions focus on improving oral health care financing, strengthening the oral health workforce, and removing barriers to using oral health care services. Many of these solutions align with the Heathy People objective to increase the number of people who use the oral health care system.

National Report: Prevalence of Tooth Loss Among Older Adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released “Prevalence of Tooth Loss Among Older Adults: United States, 2015-2018.” The data was collected using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The prevalence of complete tooth loss among adults aged 65 and over was 12.9% in 2015-2018. Complete tooth loss can diminish quality of life, limiting food choices and impeding social interaction.

Click here to read the report.

New Dental Therapy Advocacy Resource Published

Community Catalyst has published a new resource on advancing community-centered oral health policy, “Dental Therapy Advocacy: Community Engagement Guide.” The resource offers general information about the importance of community engagement, policy provisions, and guidelines/suggestions for advocates and funders. While this guide focuses on dental therapy, the resource can be useful for all oral health advocates.

Click here to view the resource.

New Resource on Nutrition and Oral Health Available

The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center recently published “Nutrition and Oral Health: A Resource Guide.” Nutrition and diet can affect overall health and well-being as well as the development and integrity of the oral cavity and the progression of oral diseases. Likewise, oral disease impacts the ability to eat and nutrition status. Caries-causing bacteria in the mouth use sugar in food to make acid that can break down tooth surfaces and create tooth decay.

Click here to view the resource.

Comments Requested on Interventions for Tobacco Smoking Cessation In Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force seeks comments on a draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review on interventions for tobacco smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant persons. The Task Force recommends clinicians ask about tobacco use and connect people to proven, safe methods to help them quit. The evidence is unclear whether e-cigarettes help adults quit smoking. More research is needed on the benefits and harms of using medications to help pregnant people quit. The draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review are available for review and public comment until June 29, 2020.

Click here to view the draft statement and evidence review.

ADA Guidance Released on Patient COVID-19 Exposure After Treatment

Finding out that a patient or close family member has tested positive for COVID-10 after their dental appointment can be a cause for concern for providers and anyone else in the office who may have interacted with the patient during the appointment. The American Dental Association (ADA) created a document to help guide providers through what they should do if someone in the practice tests positive for COVID-19.

Click here to view the document.

Pennsylvania Oral Health Plan 2020-2030 Draft Published


We are pleased to present a draft of the Pennsylvania Oral Health Plan 2020-2030. We invite you to review the document and welcome any comments and suggestions on behalf of yourself or your organization.

Please submit your comments and suggestions using this link.

Comments are due by Thursday, June 25th at 12 p.m.

Keep in mind this is a high-level document. Specific programming and action plans will be established on an annual basis with continuous input from stakeholders.

We hope to continue the conversation and look forward to your participation and support for the implementation of this plan in the coming years.

Click here to view the Pennsylvania Oral Health Plan 2020-2030 Draft.
Click here to submit comments and suggestions.

Updated Pennsylvania Dental Guidance: June 3, 2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued updated guidance for dental providers in the state on Wednesday, June 3.

The CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) call last week focused on “Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response.” The call provided a great overview of the CDC guidelines for infection control in the dental office.

Click here to view the 6/3 PA DOH guidance.
Click here to watch the CDC COCA recording.