Your oral and dental health is more important than you realize;  a variety of medical ailments are directly-tied to the human mouth.  At the same time, many lack access to or knowledge of proper dental care.

The Minnesota Department of Health is looking to change that - at least for the residents of the State of Minnesota.  They've partnered with a variety of agencies to develop the State Oral Health Plan 2020-2030 that "outlines a road map for preventing dental disease, making oral health care in Minnesota easier to access, improving data infrastructure, and integrating dental care with medical care".

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At it's core, the plan provides the focus areas to fulfill.  The Minnesota Department of Health provides the following outline details on their website:

  • Oral health infrastructure:  Strengthen, stabilize, and sustain Minnesota's oral health infrastructure
  • Access to oral health:  Increase access to timely, culturally-appropriate, geographically suitable, and financially viable dental care
  • Health systems integration:  Improve integration of medical and dental care systems to provide more holistic care
  • Disability, special care needs, and inclusion:  Make oral health care accessible, safe, respectful, and timely for all Minnesotans who seek it
  • Data:  Share oral health data and indicators to inform data-driven strategies and actions

As part of the roll out, Minnesota health officials shared the reasons behind the need for such a program. Mary Manning, Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health offered:

"We have a strong system of dedicated dental piblic health partners that bring oral health care to Minnesotans from all walks of life.  Still, many health disparities exist, and subsequent hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic have only amplified the needs.  This plan is a clear road map for improving oral health in Minnesota."

Some of the statistics shared by the Minnesota Department of Health concerning statewide oral health are alarming:

  • More than half of Minnesota counties don't have adequate dental providers
  • Children living in rural communities have more tooth decay than those in urban areas
  • Adults from low-income housing are less likely to report visiting a dentist
  • Around 40% of adults age 65 and older living in long-term care facilities had untreated tooth decay, according to 2017 data

The Minnesota State Oral Health Plan 2020-2039 is "a call to action for individuals, communities, and organizations to collaborate and implement strategies that will improve oral health of all Minnesotans".  To see the full oral health plan, click here.

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