About the Minnesota State Oral Health Program - Minnesota Department of Health

About the Minnesota State Oral Health Program


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.


The vision of the MDH Oral Health Program 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 70 percent of Minnesota adults 18 years of age or older visited a dentist in 2020. Everyone should visit a dentist at least once a year to prevent dental disease and identify treatable conditions early.
  • In 2020, 9% of 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 about oral health in Minnesota, including health impact, oral health disparities, oral health prevention statistics and more.

Serving Minnesota

The MDH Oral Health Program 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.

Through the 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.


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.

Staff information

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

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

Muneera Hassan • Prevention Project Planner • 651-201- 5424 • muneera.hassan@state.mn.us

Erin McHenry • Communications Specialist • 651-201-3532 • erin.mchenry@state.mn.us

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

Updated Monday, 18-Oct-2021 15:58:17 CDT