Following nearly two years of planning with state and national oral health experts, the Washington State Board of Health endorsed seven oral health strategies to improve the oral health of state residents. The board endorsed the proposals at its Nov. 13 meeting, following a detailed discussion of the strategies from state oral health experts.
The guidelines provide a foundation to guide the board’s policy development activities and encourage efforts that focus on oral health promotion, prevention, intervention, and treatment.
The board noted in its summary of the strategies that poor oral health is costly to the state and is associated with a range of problems that affect children, adults, and seniors. An estimated 51 million school hours are lost annually by children because of dental health problems, and dental complaints in 2010 were the No. 1 reason why uninsured adults visited the state’s hospital emergency rooms, racking up $36 million in costs over 18 months.
A copy of the seven strategies can be found on the board’s web site. A detailed presentation summarizing the strategies is also published. The strategies call for best-practice and evidence-based efforts focusing on the following areas:
- Health systems
- Community water fluoridation
- Sealant programs
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Oral health literacy
- Work force