Oral Health and Primary Care Integration

The U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report “Oral Health in America” brought national attention to the importance of and disparities present in oral health. Furthermore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report "Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations" (PDF - 3.4 MB) showed that unmet oral health care needs and barriers faced by these populations have a great impact on overall health.

Health centers continue to increase access to oral health care in the communities they serve.

According to 2020 Uniform Data System (UDS) data, health center dental programs achieved the following:

  • 5.2 million patients served
  • 11.3 million patient visits
  • Approximately 17,583 oral health Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) to include dentists, dental hygienists, and dental therapists:
    • Dentists: 4,873 FTEs
    • Dental Hygienists: 2,486 FTEs
    • Dental Therapists: 30 FTEs
    • Other Dental Personnel: 10,194 FTEs
  • Dental sealants on 6-9-year-old children with elevated caries risk increased from 42.4% in 2015 to 48.7% in 2020
  • Additional health center data and reporting information

HRSA Oral Health Initiatives

Resources

The following resources provide tips, promising practices, and recommendations on improving oral health and primary care integration in health centers.

  • Oral Health and Primary Care Integration Technical Assistance Toolkit HRSA Exit Disclaimer
    Oral health care is a common unmet need particularly among people with HIV. Based on the experiences of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program providers, HRSA’s Oral Health and Primary Care Integration Technical Assistance Toolkit contains strategies for assessing and reducing risk of oral health disease, building oral health care provider networks and referral processes, and supporting clients through patient navigation. These tools can benefit providers using multiple care approaches: from those providing oral health services onsite to those referring clients out to external dentists.
  • Considerations for Oral Health Integration in Primary Care Practice for Children Report (PDF - 784 KB)
    Educates primary care providers working with children on the integration of oral health preventive interventions into systems of care.
  • National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) HRSA BPHC exit disclaimer
    This HRSA-funded National Cooperative Agreement provides technical assistance resources to address the unique challenges faced by safety-net oral health programs.
  • The Oral Health Integration Implementation Guide HRSA BPHC exit disclaimer
    Qualis Health provides an action plan to implement screening for oral health risk factors and active disease, initiate appropriate preventive interventions, and coordinate dental care for those with active disease.
  • Online Learning Center: Resource Library HRSA BPHC exit disclaimer
    DentaQuest Institute’s Safety Net Solutions provides resources with best practices, tools, strategies, and sample policies and guidelines for safety net health programs.
  • Evaluating Your Infection Prevention and Control Program Webinar Part 1  (PDF - 87 KB)and Part 2 (PDF - 87 KB) [April 2019]
    The presenter describes methods of monitoring a site-specific infection control and safety program and identifies credible resources to facilitate continuous quality improvement of an infection prevention and safety program.
  • CDC Oral Health Page: Infection Prevention and Control in Dental Settings
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develops evidence-based recommendations to guide infection prevention and control practices in all settings in which dental treatment is provided. This site includes guidelines and recommendations, frequently asked questions, resources to support the evaluation of and adherence to guidelines, and glossary of terms.

Expansion and Integration of Health Services

Other Related Resources

Clinical Quality Improvement

Health Center Data & Reporting

Date Last Reviewed:  November 2021