Oral Health: State Policy Options


Photo of tooth brushesAccess to oral health services remains a major public health issue in the United States, with only 61 percent of adults 18 years and older visiting a dentist’s office in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly one-third of adults have untreated tooth decay. Emergency room visits for preventable dental conditions cost $1.6 billion in 2012. The “triple aim” addresses these issues by setting goals for health care, including oral health care, to improve the patient care experience, improve the health of the population and lower costs.

States have a variety of leverage points to improve adult oral health. This report outlines state policy options to improve access to oral health care, reduce oral health disparities, address oral health workforce issues, integrate oral health and primary care, and use public health models and data to achieve better oral health outcomes.

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