Who we are – Oral Health

Who we are
Minnesota State Oral Health Program

Mission

The mission of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) State Oral Health Program is to promote, protect, maintain and improve oral health because it is integral to the health of all Minnesotans.

Vision

The vision of the MDH Oral Health Unit is to advance optimal oral health for all Minnesotans.

Oral health in Minnesota

Oral health is vital to overall health and wellbeing, but it is often overlooked and many people don’t have access to quality dental care. Barriers to care can include age, income, location and more.

  • About 75 percent of Minnesota adults 18 years of age or older visited a dentist in 2014. Everyone should visit a dentist at least once a year to prevent dental disease and identify treatable conditions early.
  • In 2014, one in 10 Minnesota older adults (65+) surveyed were missing all of their natural teeth as a result of infection, tooth decay or gum disease. Current smokers and those with a total household income of less than $15,000 were at higher risk of tooth loss.
  • Two in 10 Minnesota public school third graders had untreated tooth decay in 2015. Untreated tooth decay can lead to cavities and infection.
  • More than half of third graders attending Minnesota public schools had dental sealants in 2015. Dental sealants prevent tooth decay and cavities.
  • Six in 10 Minnesota counties are considered Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas. These disparities are a major barrier to receiving oral health care.

Learn more Quick Facts about Oral Health in Minnesota, including health impact, oral health disparities, prevention and more.

Serving Minnesota

The MDH Oral Health Unit serves Minnesota in a number of ways, focusing on preventing dental disease and maintaining oral health, which leads to overall health and wellbeing.

We support community water fluoridation, the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and to improve oral health for a lifetime.

Our group collects high quality data on the status of oral health in several populations of Minnesotans. In 2010 and 2014, we conducted the Third Grade Basic Screening Survey by surveying third graders attending public school in Minnesota. In 2016, we conducted the Older Adult Basic Screening Survey by surveying older adults residing in long-term care facilities. Through the Basic Screening Survey (BSS), dental hygienists conduct open-mouth surveys to assess oral health status. Data is made available through the Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System (MNOHSS). This data promotes evidence-based decision making among policy makers, health care providers and public health organizations.

We are working to develop a statewide, coordinated school-based dental sealant program that target schools with lower-income families and rural communities. These programs show strong evidence of effectively preventing tooth decay among children.

With various grants, we are working to better integrate medical and oral health care. Through our “Impact through Innovation” project, we are testing a variety of new ways to deliver oral health services in order to target underserved populations and achieve better oral health. Through our "Models of Collaboration for State Chronic and Oral Health Programs" effort, we are working with the MDH Cardiovascular Health Unit to create a bidirectional referral system between dental practitioners/clinics and primary care practitioners/clinics.

And through our “Healthy Teeth. Healthy Baby.” initiative, we’re partnering to promote dental health in Minnesota’s pregnant women, infants and toddlers. This initiative is part of the larger statewide Early Dental Disease Prevention Initiative (EDDPI), which legislators called for in 2015.

Partners

The MDH Oral Health Unit partners with a diverse group of national, state and local organizations in an effort to prevent dental disease and promote oral health in Minnesota.

The annual Oral Health Summit is one event where we collaborate with Normandale Community College, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to educate interested stakeholders on timely oral health issues.

Funding

The MDH Oral Health Unit receives funding from a number of different sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation (DDMF) and state general funds.

State Oral Health Program team directory

Prasida Khanal, MPH, BDS • State Oral Health Director • 651-201-3538 • prasida.khanal@state.mn.us

Annie Flodin • Communications Content Specialist • 651-201-3532 • annie.flodin@state.mn.us

Genelle Lamont, MPH, Ph.D. • Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System (MNOHSS) Coordinator • 651-201-5974 • genelle.lamont@state.mn.us

Clare Larkin, RDH, M.S.Ed. • Prevention Coordinator • 651-201-4230 • clare.larkin@state.mn.us

Linda Maytan, DDS, MPH • DHS Policy Director/MDH Oral Health Associate • 651-201-5901 • linda.m.maytan@state.mn.us

Laura McLain • Senior Research Analyst, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care • 651-201-3886 • laura.mclain@state.mn.us