Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System
Monitoring oral health is important to overall health
Oral health is directly related to overall health and wellbeing. Dental disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States1. Studies link untreated gum disease to tooth loss, heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and preterm and low-weight birth.2 Cleft palate birth defects, along with mouth and throat cancer, are also directly related to oral health.
These conditions affect health and quality of life, and increase healthcare costs and spending. Data can support government, non-profit organizations, healthcare systems and policymakers assess and respond effectively to community health needs.
Data tracking systems help us to understand and respond to health problems by answering questions like:
- How common is dental disease in this population?
- Who is most affected (e.g., gender, age, race/ethnicity, rural/urban residence)?
- Are there factors that increase or decrease the rates of disease?
Easy-to-use and understand oral health data assists dental health professionals and decision-makers with public health efforts in Minnesota, including:
- Identification of populations impacted by dental disease
- Development of strategies to reduce and eliminate oral health disparities
- Effective targeting of resources
- Evaluation of public programs
National model in oral health data tracking
- The Minnesota Oral Health Statistics System (MNOHSS) (pronounced “minnows”) is an oral health data tracking system that has been nationally recognized as a model for providing state and county oral health data that is accurate, easy-to-use, action-driven, and publicly available online on the MN Public Health Data Access Portal.
MNOHSS was featured in Best Practice Approach: Dissemination of Data from State-Based Surveillance Systems, from the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) in August 2021.
Data to inform action
MNOHSS assesses population oral health through the following measures:
- Untreated tooth decay
- Dental insurance
- Tooth loss
- Dental sealants
- Oral health service use
- Dental workforce
- Related topics such as oral cancer, smoking, and cleft lip and palate birth defects
Data is used to develop community needs assessments, create, or apply to grant opportunities, target high needs populations for programs and services, and track improvements in achieving state and county oral health goals.
MNOHSS was built on collaboration and teamwork
MNOHSS was established in February 2015 through collaboration of the Oral Health Program, the Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, and Minnesota Information Technology (MN.IT) Services, with input from various state agencies, community stakeholders, and dental partners. Funding is provided by CDC and Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
Data measures are guided by national experts in state-based oral health surveillance systems (PDF)—the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). Data visualization is guided by communications and health literacy expertise at CDC, paired with state agency expertise in epidemiology and statistics, plain language, health literacy, numeracy, accessibility (508-friendly), web usability, audience testing and user-centered design.
For more information
Genelle Lamont, M.P.H., Ph.D.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dental Caries (Tooth Decay). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases. Water, Sanitation, & Environmentally-related Hygiene. September 22, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/dental_caries.html#one
2Li X, Kolltveit KM, Tronstad L, and Olsen I. Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2000, 13(4): 547-558.