A collective coalition of Cavity Free Iowa, Community Water Fluoridation, Lifelong Smiles, and Oral Health Iowa
Oral Health Iowa seeks to be the trusted advisor on oral health in Iowa by providing:
- Advocacy on relevant and timely issues.
- Education and information on trends and best practices.
- A connection point for experts, providers, and practitioners to empower those in Iowa to improve their quality of life.
Guiding Principles – We Believe:
- That oral health is a key component to overall health and well-being across all ages.
- That we must be inclusive, foster collaboration, and not duplicate efforts among partners.
- We have strength through existing oral health coalitions and groups.
- In sharing, connecting, and filling gaps among our members.
- In having leadership and voice from community members, especially those disproportionately impacted by economics, social, and healthcare challenges.
Organizational Plan:The core purpose of strategic planning was to build a collaborative coalition that is a unified voice for oral health in Iowa. This strategic plan provides a foundation upon which to build coalition leadership and committees. Once the organizational foundation and steering committee are in place, priorities will focus on:
About the Coalition
In August of 2022, a strategic planning process started to establish a collective coalition to united Oral Health Iowa, Lifelong Smiles, Cavity Free Iowa, and Community Water Fluoridation. As a result, these groups in their previous forms would be restarted within a new collective coalition called Oral Health Iowa (OHI).
OHI is governed by a Steering Committee made up of individuals representing various broad sectors that impact oral health in the state of Iowa. Each Steering Committee member brings unique knowledge, commitment and experience. For the first three years, one representative from each of the founding coalitions/workgroups will be part of the Steering Committee.
OHI Steering Committee Members:
List coming soon!
OHI will meet at a minimum two times a year virtually. Individual members of OHI represent those involved in oral health provision, planning, policy-making, funding, dental and medical communities, educational programs, advocacy groups, insurance providers, state agency leaders, and private funders. Members are asked to identify subject areas/committees in which they have the most interest. There is no cost to join OHI as an individual member.
To join OHI, click here.
Why Oral Health?
Having good oral health can have a positive impact in all five elements of a thriving life. Without tooth aches or mouth pain, a child can focus on what they’re learning in the classroom – leading to a more successful education. With preventative care, children avoid the most common childhood disease, tooth decay – meaning their families avoid the higher costs for treatment. With a confident smile, a person is more likely to have more confidence going into a job interview – and landing it!
Good oral hygiene can also affect a person’s overall health and well-being. Individuals who have access to routine and preventive dental care are less likely to have chronic health conditions, reducing their overall cost of health care. These individuals are also less likely to use emergency room services for dental problems, avoiding unnecessary expenses.
Oral Health Iowa believes that access to quality affordable oral health care is critical. Yet, access continues to be a challenge, especially in our rural communities.
Accessible and affordable quality oral health care can lead to:
1. A Strong Economy
- 29 percent of adults with low-income say the appearance of their mouth and teeth affects their ability to interview for a job.
- Dental problems result in hours lost from work and may also adversely affect a person’s productivity.
- Thirteen Iowa counties, with a higher number of rural communities, have one or fewer dentists, or only have access to dentists over age 60.
- Iowa children in urban areas are 20 percent more likely to have had a dental visit than those in rural areas.
2. Lower Health Care Costs
- Dental surgeries to treat preventable oral health issues cost Iowa insurance companies $44 million in 2018.
- In 2019, more than 6,500 Iowans sought emergency care for preventable oral health concerns, costing more than $9 million.
3. Improved Overall Health & Well-being
- People with periodontal (gum) disease have 2-3 times more risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event.
- Nearly 1 in 5 older adults experience tooth loss. Having missing teeth or wearing dentures can impact nutrition and overall health, especially for vulnerable adults who are disabled, homebound, or in a nursing home.
- Children who have poor oral health miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.
We believe that good oral health has a positive ripple effect on our community as a whole. It’s why Oral Health Iowa aims to support preventative education, advocacy for policies impacting equitable good oral hygiene, and create strategies to improve oral health outcomes for every Iowan.
2023 Advocacy Priorities
Oral Health Iowa supports programs that strengthen access to oral health care across the lifespan of all Iowans.
INCREASE ACCESS TO DENTAL PROVIDERS
Ensure that all Iowans have access to comprehensive oral health care.
- Address health care workforce shortages and misdistribution.
- Ensure funding for the FIND program to provide education loan repayment for dentists to serve high need/low access patient populations.
- Ensure funding for I-Smile to connect Iowa children to dental care, prevention and other health resources.
- Dedicate funding for statewide implementation of I-Smile Silver, a pilot project in 10 counties helping Iowa adults.
INCREASE FINANCIAL CAPACITY TO PAY FOR DENTAL SERVICES
Reduce financial barriers associated with dental care.
- Align Medicaid dental reimbursement rates with Hawki.
- Maintain access to comprehensive dental coverage for children through the current Hawki dental program.
- Maintain comprehensive adult dental benefits.
The following organizations are partners in the advancement of the mission and work of Oral Health Iowa. The following organizations are in support of the vision, mission, and guiding principles of Oral Health Iowa:
- American Home Finding Association
- Black Hawk County Public HealthBob Russell Consulting, LLC
- Cedar Valley's Promise
- Cherokee County Public Health
- Crawford County Public Health
- Delta Dental of Iowa
- Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation
- Dental Connections
- Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
- Des Moines Area Community College
- FAMILY, Inc.
- Iowa Primary Care Association
- Kirkwood Community College
- Lee County Health Department
- MCNA Dental
- Mid-Iowa Community Action
- Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman
- Oral Health Connections Mary Kelly, LLC
- United Way of Central Iowa
- University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics
- University of Iowa College of Nursing
- Webster County Health Department
OHI is supported by generous financial supporters. Financial supporters are listed below. To become a partner or to sponsor OHI, please contact Jessica Nelsen.