CDC report examines medical, dental integration in state health programs

A recent CDC report examines medical-dental integration at six state health departments to address the connection between oral health and overall well-being.

The goal of the July 22 study was to facilitate interdepartmental collaboration of chronic health and oral health programs in Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota and New York. The state health department initiated projects to address oral health and various chronic health conditions and risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and tobacco use.

Researchers examined barriers and facilitators of collaboration by conducting interviews with staff members from each state and reviewing state-submitted documents and performance measures.

The study found that all six states successfully increased collaboration and implemented their pilot projects. Factors that assisted collaboration included investment in relationships, frequent communication and advocating for medical-dental integration. Obstacles to successful collaboration and implementation of programs included the perception of oral health as separate from other chronic diseases, funding structures, gaining clinician participation and establishing referral networks.

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