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Oral Health-Primary Care Integration Model

Rural communities are using different strategies to integrate oral health and primary care. Examples of these strategies include:

  • Improving communication between dental and primary care providers
  • Creating interdisciplinary teams where mid-level medical and dental hygienists work alongside primary care physicians to provide oral health screenings, guidance, and other services and referrals (see Allied Health Professional Model).
  • Establishing referral partnerships between dental clinics and primary care practitioners (see Dental Home Model). Non-dental primary care practitioners can play an important role in the prevention of dental caries.
  • Using school-based models for dental assessment that refer children to a source of primary care (see School-Based Model).
  • Implementing a health commons approach to integrate oral health and primary care services.

Health commons sites are primary care safety net practices that include medical, dental, behavioral, public health and social services. This approach has been used to integrate oral health and primary care for uninsured, low-income rural populations. One community in New Mexico used the health commons approach to pool resources from different public and private stakeholders in the community.

Implementation considerations

Partnerships play an important role in the implementation of this model.

Resources to Learn More

A “Health Commons” Approach to Oral Health for Low-Income Populations in a Rural State
This article describes the incorporation of oral health services into a health commons primary care model.
Authors(s): Beetstra, S., Derksen, D., Ro, M., Powell, W., Fry, D., & Kaufman, A.
Organization(s): American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 92, No.1
Date: 1/2002

Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice
Describes the components of the Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice initiative, which strives to improve access to early detection and preventive interventions by expanding oral health clinical competency of primary care clinicians.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration
Date: 2/2014

National Network for Oral Health Access
The NNOHA seeks to strengthen oral health safety-net programs through the promotion of core clinical competencies and promising practices, improving access to care, and provides oral health advocacy tips and tools. This website also includes promising practices.

Prevention of Dental Caries in Children From Birth Through Age 5 Years: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement
This statement from the USPSTF presents recommendations regarding the prescription and use of oral fluoride supplementation and fluoride varnish for children.
Author(s): Moyer, V.
Organization(s): The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Date: 5/2014

The State of Rural Oral Health: A Literature Review
The health commons approach is discussed in the section on proposed solutions.
Authors(s): Fos, P. & Hutchison, L.
Organization(s): Rural Healthy People 2010