Arizona’s New Oral Health Plan Published

The Arizona State Oral Health Action Plan 2019-2020 Workgroup released the Arizona 2019-2022 Oral Health Action Plan this week.  The report articulates goals, delivers recommendations, and identifies strategies to improve the oral health of all Arizonans. It incorporates strategies gathered over three years of collaboration with health care stakeholders, state and regional oral health coalitions, educational institutions, professional associations, and grassroots organizations. This plan offers solutions to address the tremendous burden of preventable oral diseases that affect individuals across the lifespan by collaboratively creating a new blueprint to improve oral health and overall health.

The goals and objectives address four cross-cutting systems of care: Policy, Care, Community, and Financing.  The goal and objectives for each category begin on page 18 of the Report.  Recommendations include:

Policy—using data and stories to educate, advocating for Medicaid dental coverage for pregnant women, increasing the number of Arizonans with optimally fluoridated water, and establishing a state oral health surveillance plan;

Care —ensuring an adequate, diverse, and culturally competent workforce, incorporating oral health as an essential component of overall health and well-being through integrated inter-professional systems, and encouraging, supporting, and tracking inter-professional educational models of care;

Community—maintaining a statewide network of champions and leaders for oral health advocacy and planning, supporting evidence-based prevention and early detection programs, and implementing and disseminating consistent and uniform messaging; and  

Financing—financing oral health as an important component of overall health, funding and expanding oral health prevention, and sustaining financial support to improve health outcomes.

As is the case with any plan- the real key is translating the plan goals and objectives into public policy via administrative advocacy (policy interventions by state agencies), legislative advocacy (policy interventions like SB 1088 which would provide preventative oral health care for pregnant Medicaid members), by working with systems of care to improve inter-professional collaboration and by influencing policies by payors to drive better outcomes (e.g. teledentistry).