Over 100 Attend the NH Oral Health Coalition Annual Legislative Breakfast on Community-Based Oral Health Access

June2017Oral1On June 1, NHOHC held its annual Legislative Breakfast at the NH State House cafeteria. With over 100 in attendance including NH Senators, Representatives, policy-makers, legislative staff, and an advisor from the Governor’s office, twelve state-wide Coalition member programs provided displays, information, and policy highlights on the non-traditional, community-based oral health programs that provide care to low resource, Medicaid-covered, and dentally underinsured residents of NH.

Highlighting the programs that exist outside of the traditional dental office, member displays focused on programs providing care within local schools, senior centers, child-care and nutrition programs, nursing homes, public housing sites, and more.

While each program is unique, the need and service exists across the lifespan from pregnant women to children to adults and seniors. Services may be held in “brick and mortar” and mobile settings including vans and portable equipment transported in automobiles.

Legislative attendees expressed great interest in the oral health needs of NH’s children, uninsured adults and seniors, understanding that oral disease has a significant impact on the June2017Oral2overall health and function of both children and adults. Dental decay is cause by bacteria and is the #1 chronic disease for children both in NH and nationally. Yet, decay is preventable.

Key oral health policy priorities for NH include the alignment of oral health reimbursement with authorized services, especially for the NH certified public health dental hygienist (CPHDH) that can provide lower cost, community-based care; the consideration of a Medicaid adult dental benefit that provides a return on investment in health, productivity, and corrections costs; and increased opportunities for medical-dental integration – “putting the mouth back in the body.” More information on policy considerations can be found in the report from the NH Legislative Commission on Pathways to Oral Health. The full report can be found at: http://nhoralhealth.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/FINAL_SB_193_Oral_Health_Pathways_Commission_Report.pdf.

For more information on community-based oral health care programs in NH, see the NH Baseline Survey and GIS map at: www.nhoralhealth.org. You can contact the Coalition at: info@nhoralhealth.org.