Healthcare Leadership in Action
I just returned from the National Primary Oral Health Conference, the largest gathering of safety-net oral health professionals in the U.S. It was truly inspiring to learn more about the progressive work being done in the arena of oral health. As the daughter of a dentist, I’ve known since childhood that there is no such thing as good overall health without good oral health. That vital concept became lost or forgotten in the years before the Affordable Care Act put the emphasis back on wellness instead of treatment for acute illness. Now both oral health professionals and primary care providers are trying to close the gap between their professions.
This year’s conference, sponsored by the National Network for Oral Health Access, carried a theme of: “Building the Oral Health Foundation for Primary Care.” Topics covered clinical and operational topics as well as practical sessions for dentists, hygienists, and dental officers to help them understand the issues involved in integrating oral health with primary medical care. Incidentally, this year the Health Resources and Services Administration introduced the “Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice” initiative to improve access to early detection and preventive interventions.
Lack of access to oral health care contributes to profound and enduring oral health disparities in the U.S. As a healthcare consultant, I will do everything in my power to help practices in both oral health and primary care strengthen the safety net and allow more Americans to achieve the level of care they need to stay well.