Oral Health Program Newsletter - Minnesota Department of Health

MDH Oral Health Update

August 7, 2015

Rural Oral Health Collaborative Expands Dental Access in Minnesota
West central Minnesota is one of three rural regions targeted for a new five-year program known as the Minnesota Collaborative Rural Oral Health Project. The project is funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and led by the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.The Minnesota Collaborative Rural Oral Health Project aims to expand access to care in underserved rural Minnesota communities by integrating interprofessional education and using more mid-level providers. This new care model will blend medical, dental and dental therapy students in rural clinics, giving patients a full spectrum of oral health care.
“There is a huge need for dentists in greater Minnesota,” said Naty Lopez, principal investigator and assistant dean for admissions and diversity at the School of Dentistry. “Many are retiring, and there aren’t enough students returning to rural areas to take their place.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 75 percent of Minnesota rural dentists were 45 years or older as of 2008. Many of them will retire in the next five to 10 years.Grant administrators expect to implement the plan in the summer of 2016. For the full article, go to http://www.wctrib.com/news/region/3801239-oral-health-program-targets-willmar-region.
New Brief on Community Water Fluoridation
The Network for Public Health Law has released an issue brief  (https://www.networkforphl.org/_asset/x0xp69/Issue-Brief-Water-Fluoridation.pdf) on community water fluoridation that reviews the recent decision to update the recommended optimal fluoride level and examines the regulatory roles of federal, state and local officials. The conclusion of the brief is that “Community water fluoridation has greatly improved oral health in the United States.
Misinformation about how fluoride is regulated and about the safety and benefits of fluoridated water, however, continues to impede fluoridation efforts in many parts of the country. The issuance of the new HHS recommendations provides an opportunity for public health officials to clarify the complementary roles that federal, state, and local governments play in water fluoridation and to highlight the tremendous contribution that water fluoridation has made to public health.
MN Oral Health Coalition Conference - Save-the-Date
The Minnesota Oral Health Coalition Conference, entitled “Collaboration: Working Together To Meet Minnesota’s Oral Health Needs” will be held on Friday, November 13,  2015 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Join the Minnesota Oral Health Coalition today and receive conference update information at www.minnesotaoralhealthcoalition.org.

Call for 2016 National Oral Health Conference® Seminars and Workshop Abstracts
The Planning Committee for the 2016 National Oral Health Conference® to be held April 18-20, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio is now accepting proposals for seminars and workshops addressing science, policy, practice, or data related to dental public health.  Proposals will be accepted through September 1, 2015. The submission guidelines and forms are now available at www.nationaloralhealthconference.com. The submission deadline is September 1, 2015.

MDH Request for Proposals: SHIP Menthol Cigarette Intervention Grant
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is seeking applications under this Request for Proposals (RFP) for the SHIP Menthol Cigarette Intervention Grant: Addressing Tobacco Use in the African American Community. In May 2015, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Omnibus Health and Human Services bill, which included a new provision requiring MDH to fund a one-time grant of $200,000 from SHIP funding. The law requires that the grant be used to engage members of the African American community and community-based organizations to implement strategies and interventions to reduce the disproportionately high usage of cigarettes by African Americans, especially the use of menthol-flavored cigarettes, as well as the disproportionate harm tobacco causes in that community.
MDH must award the grant by Nov. 1, 2015.
Binding Notice of Intent must be submitted by Aug. 18, 2015, by 4:30 p.m.
Applications must be submitted by Sept. 10, 2015, by 4:30 p.m.
Visit http://www.health.state.mn.us/healthreform/ship/index.html to access this RFP.

July 7, 2015

MDH Receives Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation Grant for Older Adult Oral Health
The MDH Oral Health program was awarded a grant to study the oral health of Minnesotans age 65 and older in the coming year. This project will leverage the capacity of the MDH Oral Health Program to describe prevalence of disease and oral health disparity, support oral health initiatives, and address access issues among older adults in the state.

The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) Basic Screening Survey (BSS) tool will be used to provide a consistent method for describing oral disease. Data collected will be used to evaluate the status of oral health in vulnerable older adults. The results will be helpful for policy changes and health promotion programs. Many states have utilized the ASTDD BSS methodology to conduct an older adult BSS. General findings from Michigan (Senior Smiles Survey 2012 & 2014), Connecticut (The Oral Health of Vulnerable Older Adults in Connecticut 2012) and Kansas (Adult Oral Health Assessment Executive Summary 2009 and Elder Smiles 2012) are as follows:

o Older adults have risk of increased cavity experience due to dry mouth (xerostomia), a health issue and often a side effect of medications. Tooth loss due to cavities and poor hygiene may affect their ability to chew, which can affect nutrition, which increases vulnerability to more health concerns.
o Poor oral health conditions identified were oral debris, gingival inflammation, untreated decay, root fragments, and tooth mobility.
o Kansas found that though there was presence of past dental care, untreated disease was prevalent, indicating “absence of regular preventive…care”.
o Both Michigan (2014) and Kansas residents in the older adult population identified cost as the main barrier to oral care.

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota's mission of improving the oral health of the people in Minnesota and advancing the science and art of oral health in Minnesota. The Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports initiatives that promote access to oral health and, in turn, improve the overall health and vitality of our community. The data collected by the Older Adult Oral Health Project will allow the MDH Oral Health Program to guide decision making to best serve the people of Minnesota and promote the health of Minnesotans of all ages. 

MN Data Access Portal Adds Poverty Information
Since the launch of oral health data on the MN Data Access Portal last winter, there has been heavy traffic to the site, and program staff have demonstrated the portal at several meetings, providing an overview of the research features and capabilities.
This week, an interactive map to Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) data was added. FRPL is a common representation of childhood poverty using the percentage of public school students eligible for FRPL under the National School Lunch Program. Low income and poverty can impact both access to dentists and the ability to pay for dental care.
 Good data can help define issues more clearly, and can also lead to better policy. Go to the oral health topic on the MN Public Health Data Access website for your research needs.

Health Literacy in Your Work
In the last Update, the health literacy information was a popular topic, and below is more information on how to use health literacy concepts in your work.

Health literacy is a term used to describe skills needed to find, understand, interpret, use and act on health information. Eight out of every 10 adults in the U. S. have insufficient health literacy skills to meet the demands of today’s self-care, medical, and dental needs. This includes the ability to adhere to dental provider recommendations, properly fill out registration and consent forms, correctly take medications, and complete other self-care tasks. 
Health literacy is associated with literacy level, primary language spoken, age, education level, and socioeconomic status; however, anyone can have difficulty with dental provider instructions or forms. You can’t identify someone who has low health literacy by looking at them. Dental providers can ensure better patient understanding using proven communications methods such as plain language, teach-back, flip-it, and teaching aids such as diagrams and models. For more information, visit the MN Literacy Partnership.

May 13, 2015

** NEW**Dental HPSA Data Available on MN Access Portal

The Oral Health topic on the MN Data Access Portal has been up and running with great success for three months, with new data added regularly. The most recent data are Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (Dental HPSAs), which are areas designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) as having a shortage or inadequate distribution of dentists and/or places with higher dental needs. 

Dental HPSAs may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low-income population) or institutional (comprehensive health center, federally qualified health center or other public facility). In Minnesota, the majority of dental HPSAs are low-income (i.e. areas that are at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines), and may represent areas with lower access to dental/oral health care and populations with greater risk of dental diseases and oral conditions.

MDH Represented At National Oral Health Conference

For the third year, MDH Oral Health Program staff contributed to a successful national conference held in April in Kansas City, Missouri. MDH Dental Director Merry Jo Thoele moderated a preconference workshop entitled "To Compare or Not Compare: State Oral Health Data and HP2020 Targets", while David Rindal of the MDH Safe Drinking Water Protection Section and Merry Jo offered a poster session titled: "Using Analysis of Raw Water Samples to Inform Proposed Adjustment of Fluoride Levels in Minnesota’s Public Water Systems". Oral Health Program Evaluator Bilquis Khan and Merry Jo created a poster "Oral Health Determinants and Chronic Conditions Affecting Dental Visits". Merry Jo led a roundtable discussion "Engaging in Evaluation: Adding Value to Partnerships". Oral Health Data Manager Genelle Lamont presented the health literacy work from the Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System.  All were greeted with success, and one participant commented that Minnesota is the gold standard in oral health!

Information about these and all NOHC presentations will be available on the NOHC website in the near future.

Health Literacy Summit and Data Tips

Oral Health Data Coordinator Genelle Lamont attended the 2015 Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit in April.  The biannual Summit had over 300 attendees from over 20 states and 3 countries with many nationally known health literacy experts attending. Genelle gave a presentation on health literacy and numeracy work and lessons learned from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation-funded Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System. She offers the following tips for reader-friendly data graphs:

1. Keep content and layout simple; white space is your friend.
2. Graphs should have ONE main message only.
3. Graph title should answer the “who, what, where, and when” of the graph.
4. Remove grid lines and unnecessary logos or images.
5. Limit data categories to five or less.
6. Add clear x (horizontal) and y (vertical) axes titles and legend.
7. Use consistent graph scales for comprehension and comparison (e.g., 0 to 100%).
8. Label data series with number and unit (e.g., 90%).
9. Use consistent category order (e.g., alphabetical order or low-high numerical order).
10. Footnotes should contain the data source and need-to-know information only.

For more information on health literacy, go to the CDC Health Literacy website or Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit.

Bhaskara Accepted to CDC Dental Public Health Residency

Dr. Sahiti Bhaskara, Field Coordinator in the MDH Oral Health Program, has been accepted for a one year residency with the CDC Dental Public Health Residency Program in Atlanta, GA starting in July of 2015.  One to two people are selected to participate in this program each year, making Dr. Bhaskara’s honor noteworthy.

The goal of the program is to produce skilled specialists in dental public health who can work collaboratively with their public health and dental colleagues in an array of health settings to achieve improved oral health for populations. Such positions could be located within health agencies, voluntary organizations, research settings, health care delivery, or financing systems. The program culminates in a certificate of completion that meets educational requirements established by the American Board of Dental Public Health for specialty certification. As part of her work, Dr. Bhascara may continue with some of the work she started with the MDH Oral Health program, strengthening her residency, and providing expert CDC resources to MDH.

Dr. Bhaskara is a dentist by training from MGM Dental College, Mumbai, India and recently completed a Masters degree in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.

Dental Services Advisory Committee (DSAC) Searching for Members

The Dental Services Advisory Committee (DSAC) is soliciting applications for membership for 2 positions. One opening is for a dental hygienist, and the term will expire June 30, 2016. The new appointee will be asked to serve the remainder of this term and may choose to re-apply for a full 3-year term.  DSAC will also add a county/public health representative to the committee.

The 13-member group, a subcommittee of the Health Services Advisory Council (HSAC), consists of a variety of dental providers, representatives from health plans and public health, health researchers and a consumer. The committee provides clinical guidance to enhance the department’s ability to design dental care benefit and coverage policies for Minnesota Health Care Programs. Like HSAC, DSAC works with DHS to support evidence-based coverage policy, in which decisions regarding services paid for by public programs are made using the best available research on effectiveness. Appointing authority: Commissioner of Human Services. Compensation: $200 honorarium plus reimbursement for mileage and parking. (Minnesota Statutes 256B.0625, subd.3c(b)

Interested applicants can apply at the Secretary of State Open Appointment site.

Dental Openings at Ramsey Detox Center

Ramsey County Community Human Services seeks one or more health professionals to provide 1) preventive, primary and urgent medical care services; and/or 2) primary dental services on-site at the Ramsey County Detoxification Center.  These services are necessary in order to meet the immediate health care needs of clients as well as to initiate health care services and connect individuals to follow-up appointments and on-going care.  The health care provider(s) will be integrated into the existing care team located at the Detoxification Center. 

Official Position Release date:     May 15, 2015, and will be posted on http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/hs/rfp.
Submission due date:                June 25, 2015

For more information, please contact Kim Klose, Planning Specialist at kim.klose@co.ramsey.mn.us.


April 30, 2015

As you may be aware, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay on Monday, April 27, 2015. Merry Jo Thoele, the MDH Oral Health Program Director, and David Rindal, Senior Engineer in the MDH Drinking Water Protection Section, were in the audience when the Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Dr. Boris Lushniak made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the National Oral Health Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dr. Lushniak stated, “While additional sources of fluoride are more widely used than they were in 1962, the need for community water fluoridation still continues. Community water fluoridation continues to reduce tooth decay in children and adults beyond that provided by using only toothpaste and other fluoride-containing products.”
Both the Drinking Water Protection Section and the Oral Health Program of MDH were prepared for this announcement and will be addressing the rules change needed for community water supply operators to implement the new recommendation. The Oral Health Program will soon be updating its website with more information about fluoridation and oral health.
Below are some links and resources that may be helpful to you:

HHS Fluoridation Statement

CDC Fluoridation Statement

CDC Fluoridation homepage

Campaign for Dental Health


March 5, 2015

The National Center for Health Statistics has released a new Data Brief,  “Dental Caries and Sealant Prevalence in Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011–2012.” These data from the National Health and Examination Nutrition Survey (NHANES) provide the most recent picture of the oral health of children and adolescents in the United States.  Data are presented for children aged 2 to 19 years and are available for the racial and ethnic groups assessed by NHANES, including, for the first time, Asians. Indicators include the prevalence of dental caries in the primary and secondary teeth, untreated caries, and the receipt of dental sealants. The data show that despite tremendous improvements in oral health over the past 50 years, tooth decay remains one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the U.S.
The report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db191.htm. For Minnesota-specific information about children's dental caries and sealant rates from the 2010 Basic Screening Surveillance (BSS), go to Oral Health information at the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal.

TWO BRIEFS WITH SIMILAR FINDINGS: The U.S. To Experience Dental Provider Shortages
The Health Resources and Services Administration recently released a brief presenting national and state-level estimates of supply and demand for dentists and dental hygienists. They used a baseline in 2012 and for 2025 using the HRSA Health Workforce Simulation Model (HWSM) to pinpoint where dental shortages are likely to occur.
The Network for Public Health Law, in conjunction with 23 key stakeholders released a brief in October 2014 outlining current concerns for oral health and explores policy options to increase access to oral health care and improve health by expanding the oral health workforce. It is designed to help policy-makers, public health professionals and community members translate proven public health science into public health law and community practice at every level of government. Innovative ideas to expand the oral health workforce include expanding the role of other dental professionals, such as community dental health coordinators, dental therapists, community health workers and dental hygienists.  Minnesota provided an example of dental therapists at work in this brief, with our work starting in 2009. 


February 5, 2015

Find Data and Create Reports with New Minnesota Oral Health Data Source
Minnesota Oral Health Data  is now available for use on the Minnesota Public Health Data Access portal, improves access to key data affecting the oral health of Minnesotans and helps link key determinants of health such as income and access to dental care.

Choose Your Format and Data
Easily access up-to-date national, Minnesota state and county oral health data, track trends in disease and dental service use, and more readily identify health disparities and unmet needs via computer, mobile or tablet. Use summaries found under "Facts and Figures" or easily create your own reports under "Data Queries" using a variety of variables, such as:

State data:
•  Minnesota adult dental service use
•  Tooth loss among older adults (65 years and older)
•  Caries experience (tooth decay) and dental sealant rates among third graders enrolled in public schools

State and County data:
•  Adult and child dental service use among Minnesota Health Care Program/Medicaid enrollees
•  Public school free/reduced lunch enrollment

The MN Public Health Data Access portal includes statewide data on environmental and public health topics using graphs, charts, interactive map systems, dynamic queries and health information to inform public health professionals, researchers, policymakers and the general public.
This is one of few online state oral health statistical systems in the country. The project represents an ongoing collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program and community partner and funding agent, the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. 


January 16, 2015

Oral Health Update: National Fluoride Anniversary Information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Locally, the state of Minnesota has required municipalities to provided fluoridated water in our community water supplies since 1970.
The Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP), a national organization, is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to launch a Social Media Storm at Noon (CST) on Friday, January 23rd to observe the 70th anniversary of nationwide community water fluoridation. 
If you and your organization would like to participate, here are the details:

  • The Social Media Storm will last 70 minutes to commemorate 70 years of water fluoridation. During this time, CDHP is encouraging people who care about oral health to post a couple of messages to Twitter and/or Facebook. At 1:10 p.m. (CST), the event will conclude.
  • Participants can write messages of their own or use messages from the CDHP social media kit, and CDHP encourages everyone posting a message to use the same hashtag of #factsfavorfluoridation. Doing so will make it possible for people to follow the entire thread of messages. If you tweet prior to the designated time, CDHP will not be able to track participation.


Updated Friday, July 28, 2017 at 10:14AM