Oral Health: An Essential Component of Primary Care

Oral health is essential for healthy development and healthy aging, yet nationwide there is an unacceptably high burden of oral disease. This new white paper makes the case for incorporating preventive oral healthcare as a component of routine medical care and structuring referrals to dentistry. It outlines an Oral Health Delivery Framework, which consists of five actionable steps primary care teams can take to protect and promote oral health, including offering preventive interventions and structured referrals to dentistry. These actions directly align with how primary care teams manage preventive, acute, and chronic care needs for a wide range of clinical conditions, and are within the scope of practice for primary care providers and their teams. The Framework was developed in partnership with a panel of experts, including primary care and dental care providers; leaders from medical, dental, and nursing associations; payers and policymakers; a patient and family partnership expert; and oral health and public health advocates.

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