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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration

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Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice

Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice report (PDF - 244 KB) 03/31/2014

The Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice initiative strives to improve access to early detection and preventive interventions by expanding oral health clinical competency of primary care clinicians, leading to improved oral health.

The initiative comprises three inter-related components:

  • Oral health core clinical competencies appropriate for primary care clinicians;
  • Delineation of the interdependent elements that would influence the implementation and adoption of the core competencies into primary care practice; and
  • Outline of the basis for implementation strategies and translation into primary care practice in safety net settings.

This Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice report describes these three components and makes the following recommendations:

  1. Apply oral health core clinical competencies within primary care practices to increase oral health care access for safety net populations in the United States.
  2. Develop infrastructure that is interoperable, accessible across clinical settings, and enhances adoption of the oral health core clinical competencies. The defined, essential elements of the oral health core clinical competencies should be used to inform decision-making and measure health outcomes.
  3. Modify payment policies to efficiently address costs of implementing oral health competencies and provide incentives to health care systems and practitioners.
  4. Execute programs to develop and evaluate implementation strategies of the oral health core clinical competencies into primary care practice.

It is anticipated that the report and its recommendations serve as guiding principles and provide a framework for the design of a competency-based, interprofessional practice model to integrate oral health and primary care.

Did You Know?

Lack of access to basic dental services contributes to profound and enduring oral health disparities in the United States. 

Millions of children and adults do not receive needed clinical and preventive dental services. 

In 2011, 6.1 percent of children and 16.4 percent of adults under the age of 65, did not receive needed dental care because their families could not afford it.

Children are only one of the many vulnerable and underserved populations that face persistent, systemic barriers to accessing oral health care.