A recently published report offers 7 oral health recommendations directed primarily toward the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dental Health Recommendations
The Institute calls these recommendations the new Oral Health Initiative (NOHI), and the hope is that dental health professionals, individuals, and the government sector will benefit from them and be encouraged toward improving oral health. Here is what they recommend:
- NOHI leaders should be allowed the resources and authority to integrate dental health across the HHS programs and planning.
- Any relevant HHS agencies should promote preventive dental services based on evidence and make them available on both the clinical and community levels.
- These relevant agencies should also provide some level of oral health awareness and educational training for the community, including dental health professionals and individuals.
- The HHS should initiate objectives among the workforce to promote dental health, provide better dental health care, and emphasize the importance of utilizing dental health professionals.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also includes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), should improve their models to allow people better access to quality, affordable oral health care.
- The HHS should place a greater emphasis on providing timely, open information to advance dental science and research.
- Leaders should meet annually to review NOHI recommendations and evaluate progress.
America’s Dental Health
Why do we need extra initiatives to improve dental health? Hasn’t dental health improved over time? Yes, but take a look at these statistics:
- Tooth decay affects between 60 to 90% of teenagers and adults (World Health Organization).
- The most unaddressed health service among children is dental care (Pew Center on the States).
- In the past eight years, tooth decay in children has gone up 28% (Centers for Disease Control).
- Last year, 34% of the American population did not visit a dentist at all (Gallup-Healthways poll).
- State dental policies fail in 1 in 5 children. 17 million children per year go without dental care in the US (DentaQuest Foundation, Pew Center on the States).
- Dental insurance is one of the first benefits employers are looking to cut back (Society for Human Resource Management).
Researchers hope to reverse some of those trends by encouraging better cooperation between the HHS, the public, and dental professionals about the importance of proper oral care throughout America.