09:56 AM

National Health Center Week and Oral Health Champions

Proud to support safety net providers working on medical-dental integration nationwide


Health center advocates across the country are celebrating the integral role Community Health Centers (CHCs) play in addressing the health care needs of our nation's most vulnerable populations. The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement has been collaborating with CHCs for over a decade to develop and test innovative solutions that result in increased access to care and improved health outcomes, and we are proud to honor them this week.

For the last eight years, we have supported health centers and other safety net clinics through various initiatives, including the National Oral Health Innovation and Integration Network (NOHIIN).

NOHIIN is leading a national movement to unify and empower Primary Care Associations (PCAs) and safety net providers to be champions of oral health as an essential component of overall health. Since 2015, the number of patients receiving dental services in a federally-qualified health center (FQHC) has grown by 18 percent. Although the majority of patients accessing care at FQHCs are receiving medical services, dental patients now make up nearly 23 percent of the FQHC patient population, compared to just 10 percent in 2007.

CHCs also advocate for policies that elevate the importance of oral health and expand access to care, such as mid-level providers, adult dental benefits and payment for preventive oral health services in primary care. Through participation in NOHIIN, PCAs across the country are collaborating to share lessons learned, best practices, and leverage resources surrounding the integration of oral health.

A strong oral health safety net system is vital to meet current and future demand for oral health prevention, education and treatment for underinsured and underserved children and adults. This means CHCs are even more important to helping the system find new ways of integrating oral health into primary care.