Medical-Dental Integration

Oral health is often secluded from the rest of the health care system and from conversations about overall health, even though studies show more than 90% of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations. The reality is that oral health is about much more than a smile — it is connected, in many ways, to the body, too. For example, according to new research from the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement:
  • Diabetes raises the risk of developing gum disease by 86%.
  • People with gum disease are 3 times more likely to have a stroke involving blood vessels in the back of the brain, which controls vision and other bodily functions.
  • Gum disease among pregnant women is associated with preterm births, low birthweight babies and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that can cause organ damage and can be fatal.
And the cost to care for these diseases contributes to growing national health expenditures in the U.S. — above and beyond the $520 million Medicare spends annually on dental emergency room visits or the $6 billion lost in economic productivity from dental-related work absences. Given the rising costs and the evidence of the mouth-body connection, there is an increasing need to break down the silos and advance integration between primary care and dental providers.
How? Medical-dental integration.

Medical-dental integration is an approach to care that integrates and coordinates dental medicine into primary care and behavioral health to support individual and population health. Also known as interprofessional practice, or IPP, it has demonstrated positive patient outcomes and reductions in total cost of care. It’s a model of care that holds the patient at the center and allows providers to come up with comprehensive care plans for the whole patient. Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and Catalyst Institute, Inc., shares more in this short video:

Click to play moving toward medical-dental integration video
White Paper
A Three Domain Framework to Innovating Oral Health Care
The DentaQuest Partnership is proposing a new model, a Three Domain Framework, that creates a primary care-like structure for oral health care delivery.
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The Link Between Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia and the Mouth
A new report from the DentaQuest Partnership reinforces the connection between oral health and overall health and underscores the breadth of health issues — including ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) — that ongoing oral health care can protect against.
Learn more »
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What COVID-19 Is Teaching Us About Medical-Dental Integration
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new opportunities for innovative solutions to integrate and coordinate care between medicine and dentistry. Two DentaQuest Partnership experts explore four lessons we’ve learned in the last six months.
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Collaborating to Create Better Health Outcomes

Working toward medical-dental integration is critical to improve oral and overall health outcomes.  Many community health programs and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are already doing this — and proving that it works. These types of collaborative approaches create scenarios that enable patients to realize the connection with oral health and overall wellbeing, encouraging healthy behavioral change and promoting the practice of prevention strategies.
For example:
  • Through the Medical Oral Expanded Care (MORE Care) initiative, the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement has been working with primary care practices across the country to integrate oral health competencies and capabilities into primary care offices while building patient-centered referral networks with local dental providers. In the program’s first several years, rural areas in Pennsylvania, Colorado and South Carolina invested in integration changes as part of long-term pilot programs. More recently, MORE Care has been working with urban and suburban communities to achieve the same goals.
  • Advantage Dental, the largest dental accountable care organization in the state of Oregon, developed a model that offers a unique approach to oral health care, emphasizing prevention over surgery, care in the community and population health management.  
  • National Oral Health Innovation and Integration Network (NOHIIN) is leading a national movement to unify and empower Primary Care Associations and safety net providers to be champions of oral health as an essential component of overall health. Since 2015, the number of patients receiving dental services in a federally qualified health center (FQHC) has grown by 18%. Through participation in NOHIIN, which DentaQuest has supported, PCAs across the country are collaborating to share lessons learned, best practices, and leverage resources surrounding the integration of oral health.
Value-based care and medical-dental integration go hand and hand. As we continue to move into an era where payers and providers are shifting from a focus on volume of services to the value of those services, the industry is changing. It’s becoming clear that taking this holistic, whole-body, prevention-first approach to oral care and health care will have greater financial benefit to providers and, more importantly, afford better access and improved health outcomes for patients.