Oral health is essential for healthy development and healthy aging, yet nationwide there is an unacceptably high burden of oral disease. This white paper from Qualis Health makes the case for incorporating preventive oral healthcare as a component of routine medical care and structuring referrals to dentistry. The Oral Health Delivery Framework provides a practical method for primary care teams of all types to engage patients and families in the prevention and early detection of oral disease.
Delivering preventive oral healthcare in the primary care setting will expand access for nearly all patients, particularly high-risk and vulnerable patients. Primary care teams have the skills necessary to understand and intervene in the oral disease process; the relationships needed to engage patients and families in oral health self-care; and a structure for coordinating referrals to dentistry and supporting patients during transitions of care. A primary care team can take accountability to protect and promote oral health. These activities are within the scope of practice for primary care; and if organized efficiently, can be integrated into the office workflow of diverse practice settings.
The Oral Health Delivery Framework was developed in partnership with a panel of experts, including primary care and dental care providers; leaders from medical, dental, and nursing associations; payers and policymakers; a patient and family partnership expert; and oral health and public health advocates. It has been endorsed by a broad array of organizations, including: American Association for Community Dental Programs, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American College of Nurse Midwives, American Public Health Association–Oral Health Section, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Network for Oral Health Access, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and Physician Assistant Education Association.
The publication is sponsored by the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, and supported by DentaQuest Foundation, The REACH Healthcare Foundation and Washington Dental Service Foundation.
The Qualis Health website also has a video and case examples supporting the framework.