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Returning the Mouth to the Body: Integrating Oral Health and Primary Care

April 17, 2012

The United States continues to struggle with widespread and untreated dental disease in what the Surgeon General has dubbed a “silent epidemic.” Children and adolescents, low-income families, and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable and continue to experience the heaviest disease burden. Unfortunately, barriers to treatment and continuous care persist, requiring new and innovative approaches to increasing access to quality care. A concept at the forefront in many circles is to coordinate and even integrate oral health into primary care, reversing the traditional divide between medical and dental care that has essentially separated the mouth from the whole of the body.

To further the discussion amongst funders on this timely topic, Grantmakers In Health (GIH) is hosting an Oral Health Issue Dialogue, Returning the Mouth to the Body: Integrating Oral Health and Primary Care, on April 17, 2012 in Washington, DC.  This one-day meeting will not only help reinforce the case for integrating oral health into primary care, but will also explore theoretical models for integration, as well as real world applications. The Issue Dialogue will also examine the current opportunities in health care reform and existing federal policy for integrating care. Using this information, participants will engage in active dialogue to determine what next steps need to be taken and funders’ roles in supporting this work.

The program will examine various paths to integration, including:

  • a look at evolving oral health models and what can be learned from behavioral health models currently being used;
  • opportunities for increased integration within the framework of health reform and federal policy; and
  • examples of how oral health has integrated successfully into primary care.

Along with these topics, the Issue Dialogue will provide ample opportunities for funders to collaborate and discuss their role in promoting this work. 


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