The plan, presented at the Massachusetts State House by the Better Oral Health for Massachusetts Coalition on April 12, is the result of over a year and a half of work by a dental care providers, program sponsors, lawmakers, state officials, insurers, health advocates, policy leaders, and consumers, in communities from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.
The goal of the state Oral Health Plan is to improve the system of oral health services in the state through a strategy that includes increasing access to preventive services, broadening the public’s understanding of oral health, developing the oral health workforce, and strengthening disease surveillance. The plan emphasizes cost-effective strategies and public-private partnerships at the local, regional and statewide levels.
The Better Oral Health for Massachusetts Coalition was formed in 2008 in response to data provided in 2008 report by the Catalyst Institute’s report, The Oral Health of Massachusetts
. This report found gaps in access to preventive oral health services across Massachusetts. For example, 48% of children under the age of 9 suffer from tooth decay and 1 in 10 children from low-income and minority families reported mouth pain while at school. Untreated tooth decay can inhibit a child’s ability to learn, speak, and eat, and result in lower educational attainment and poorer overall health.
I had the pleasure to serve as master of ceremonies at the launch of the plan. Speakers representing state government and the health care community spoke about the importance of oral health and its connection to overall health.
The DentaQuest Foundation has been the primary supporter of the Better Oral Health for Massachusetts Coalition through in-kind and financial contributions. View the plan at www.massoralhealth.org or, at www.dentaquestfoundation.org/resources/reports.php.
Guest post by Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation