Saint Paul, MN

The Minnesota Department of Health unveils new state plan to promote oral health throughout the life

Abdi Isaaq
Michael Larsson/Pixabay

ST. PAUL, MN - Minnesota Department of Health, or MDH and its partners have released a new state plan to strengthen the State Oral Health Plan 2020-2030, which lays out a strategy for avoiding dental disease, increasing access to oral health care in Minnesota, improving data infrastructure, and integrating dental and medical care.

The plan results from a lengthy community engagement process that included partners such as MDH, the Minnesota Dental Services Advisory Committee, and the Minnesota Oral Health Coalition. Oral health care in Minnesota, according to community members and partners, needs to shift to a more upstream approach that focuses on preventing dental illness rather than just treating it.

The plan asks the state to focus on oral illness and oral health needs at various stages of life. This encompasses the significance of social and community aspects in dental health, such as health literacy, health equity, cultural practices, and oral disease and progression habits.

“We have a strong system of dedicated dental public health partners that bring oral health care to Minnesotans from all walks of life,” said Mary Manning, Minnesota Department of Health assistant commissioner.

Manning, however, believes that numerous health disparities persist, and that the subsequent hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated the need. She sees this approach as a step-by-step guide to enhancing oral health in Minnesota.

People from marginalized communities, such as low-income children and adults, persons of color and American Indians, and people with disabilities, are more prone to suffer from dental problems on a national scale. The same is true in Minnesota. The Minnesota Oral Health Program data portal provided the following facts:

More than half of Minnesota counties lack dentists. Rural kids had more dental deterioration than metropolitan students.

The dentist is less likely to see adults from poor homes. According to 2016 research, about 40% of seniors living in long-term care facilities had untreated dental decay.

In 2016, Latinx adults were 1.4 times less likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have visited a dentist or dental clinic.

The MDH Oral Health Program will be responsible for plan execution, improvement, and evaluation. Its next stages include:

  • Promoting the approach.
  • Creating focused work plans.
  • Developing a shared oral health assessment system to measure achievement.

MDH will also recruit rural oral health professionals and reach out to rural health activists.

Visit the Minnesota State Oral Health Program to read further information about it.

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