Integration of Oral and
Primary Care in Pennsylvania

The mouth is the gateway to the body. Oral health is closely tied to overall, systemic health, yet oral health and systemic health tend to be separated. Dentists take care of oral health while physicians take care of the rest of the body. In rural Pennsylvania, access to dental care can be challenging as the ratio of patients to providers increases when compared to urbanized areas. Other barriers to accessing dental care in rural areas include transportation and insurance coverage.

Patients living in rural areas often have a primary care provider; however, they are less likely to have an established “dental home.” Given the many ties between oral health and systemic health including links to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pregnancy outcomes, leaving oral health out of overall health can make it challenging to manage and treat chronic disease.

In an effort to address oral health disparities in rural areas, the DentaQuest Institute developed the Medical Oral Expanded Care (MORE Care) Collaborative. Initially piloted in South Carolina, the collaborative was expanded in 2016 to include Colorado and Pennsylvania. The DentaQuest Institute, in partnership with State Offices of Rural Health, works with Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to integrate and coordinate oral health into primary care.

MORE Care Participating Rural Health Clinics

Participating Rural Health Clinics have learned how to incorporate oral health risk assessments and oral health self-management goals into their practice. They have also integrated fluoride varnish, which can help to prevent dental caries, or cavities. In efforts to coordinate care, participating RHCs make referrals to local dental offices. Dental offices receiving these referrals are asked to return a dental treatment report to the RHC.

Rural Health Clinics currently participating in MORE Care include:

Cohort 1:

  • Cambridge Springs Health Center
  • Conneaut Lake Health Center
  • Conneaut Valley Health Center
  • Coudersport Pediatrics
  • Emporium Rural Health Center
  • Galeton Rural Health Center
  • Meadville Community Health Center
  • Port Allegany Pediatrics
  • Saegertown Medical Associates

Cohort 2:

  • St. Luke’s Miners Health Center-Nesquehoning
  • St. Luke’s Miners Health Center-Hometown
  • St. Luke’s Miners Health Center-Ringtown
  • St. Luke’s Miners Health Center-Lansford

Cohort 3:

  • This could be you!  Are you part of a Rural Health Clinic who would like to get started with oral health integrating in your rural clinic?  Contact Kelly Braun to learn more!

Kelly Braun, R.D.H., M.S.D.H.

Kelly Braun, R.D.H., M.S.D.H.
Dental Delivery Systems Coordinator

118 Keller Building
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802
Office: (814) 865-9888

MORE Care Oral Health Resources