State Primary Care Associations Partner with Federally Qualified Health Centers to Champion Oral Health as Essential to Overall Health

State Primary Care Associations Partner with Federally Qualified Health Centers to Champion Oral Health as Essential to Overall Health

A strong oral health safety net system is vital to meet current and future demand for oral health prevention, education and treatment for underinsured and underserved children and adults. With healthcare trending towards providing more holistic, person-centered care, federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs), community clinics, and other safety providers are poised to be hubs of innovation in developing and implementing new ways of integrating oral health into primary care. 

For the last eight years, the DentaQuest Partnership has been supporting the work of the safety net through various initiatives, including the National Oral Health Innovation and Integration Network (NOHIIN). NOHIIN is leading a national movement to unify and empower Primary Care Associations (PCAs) and safety net providers to be champions of oral health as an essential component of overall health. Since 2015, the number of patients receiving dental services in a FQHC has grown by 18%. Although the majority of patients accessing care at FQHCs are receiving medical services, dental patients now make up nearly 23% of the FQHC patient population compared to just 10% in 2007.

PCAs participating in NOHIIN continue to increase training and development opportunities for FQHC administrators, medical and dental providers focused on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of their dental programs to ensure financial sustainability, increased access to care and improved quality outcomes, as well as improving the integration of oral health and primary care through person-centered care models, interprofessional practice and value-based transformation. NOHIIN PCAs also partner with FQHCs in their state to advocate for policies that elevate the importance of oral health and expand access to care, such as mid-level providers, adult dental benefits and payment for preventive oral health services in primary care. Through participation in NOHIIN, PCAS across the country are collaborating to share lessons learned, best practices, and leverage resources surrounding the integration of oral health.

To learn more about NOHIIN and the oral health efforts of State Primary Care Associations across the country, contact NOHIIN’s Central Agent: Katie Jahreis, Oral Health Program Manager, at kjahreis@massleague.org