blog 6.3

Guest blog by Elizabeth Roney

The DentaQuest Foundation held a south/southeast regional oral health convening in Nashville from May 21st through the 23rd.  Professionals ranging from dentists to advocates from 13 southern states connected to create a regional network, discuss how to build an oral health movement and work together to align goals with the Oral Health 2020 vision. Nashville’s laid-back feel and the unconventional meeting facilitation methods allowed a student, like myself, to confidently and comfortably participate along with prominent professionals. As a new member and University of Kentucky pre-dental student, I plan to work alongside with the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition to advocate the importance of oral health in the region. I head a great experience at the DentaQuest Foundation’s South/Southeast region conference.

The DentaQuest Foundation Oral Health 2020 initiative is a national movement that will hopefully create a new buzz in this country by weaving national, state, and community-based networks to improve the oral health for all. This process will integrate a much larger network of leaders across the country working to improve the health of all. The Oral Health 2020 vision is to end dental disease in children and improve oral health across the lifespan. In order to reach this vision stakeholders came together to prioritize four goals seen in the illustration below.

oral health

Goals include ensuring that 10 of largest school districts have oral health incorporated into their systems and 75% of children to reach age five without a cavity. Increased awareness and oral health literacy are key strategies to improve oral health in parents, children and members of the school systems. The foundation’s goals reach beyond just children and the school systems and include patient centered care, improving the public health insurance system and developing a national and statewide measurement system.  In order to ensure an effective care model, patient centered care requires involvement from care providers and families.  For states to include a comprehensive medical adult dental benefit in adult Medicaid, national advocacy groups, providers and congressional champions must come together to create a cost effective administration.  Similar efforts must be made for Medicare to include a comprehensive dental benefit. To measure efforts and provide a uniform standard of dental care, a measurement system must be put into place.

The participants and admirable goals to eradicate dental disease in young through the DentaQuest Foundation’s oral health 2020 initiative was truly inspiration to an aspiring health professional. With open lines of communication and a vision for oral health equity for all, these goals are tangible regardless of socioeconomic class and location. I believe it is a human right to have optimal oral health.