National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (NIIOH)
The National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health is filling the gap in professional education about oral health. This systems change initiative is focused on embedding oral health competency into the education and training systems that support primary care clinicians. The Interprofessional Initiative is recruiting leaders from the medical, nursing, physician assistant and pharmacy professions to join the fight for oral health. Working together, they are designing common oral health learning tools, like the Smiles for Life national curriculum, which can be woven into existing education programs so that clinicians entering and engaged in primary care see the important role they can play in preventing dental disease. As primary care clinicians learn to protect and promote oral health and prevent dental disease as part of their education and training experience, they can educate patients to protect their oral health, provide prevention services, identify signs of early disease, and appropriately refer patients needing treatment to a dental professional.
The Interprofessional Initiative is also developing a network of oral health champions who are working to incorporate oral health into academic program accreditation, professional licensing, provider reimbursement, continuing education, and other undertakings that use oral health content as a vehicle for teaching interprofessional competencies.
Partners in this initiative are motivated by the knowledge that dental disease impacts overall health, results in avoidable pain and expense ($60 billion annually), and can be prevented by timely interventions that work.
Activities of the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health are made possible as a result of funding from DentaQuest, the Washington Dental Service Foundation, and the Connecticut Health Foundation.