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Activity 3: Strategic Planning—The State Oral Health Plan

A state oral health plan is a roadmap for accomplishing the goals and objectives that have been developed by the state oral health program in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, including the state oral health coalition and members of the public health and dental communities.

The overall comprehensive state oral health plan goal is to reduce the prevalence of oral diseases. The plan should include specific objectives related to oral health promotion, disease prevention and control, and specific risk factors. A well-crafted plan provides S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-framed) objectives and descriptive activities for accomplishing each stated goal.

Having a state oral health plan prepares a state to effectively compete for funding and other opportunities as they arise because it demonstrates that support mechanisms are in place to use the funding for oral health programs.

Developing a logic model for a state plan [PDF–27K] also is a good first step.

It is important to distribute the plan broadly to a range of stakeholders and share it with the public and policymakers. It is advisable to periodically review state's progress toward attaining objectives specified by the plan and to schedule a major revision at specified intervals. It is recommended that the plan be updated every three to five years.

The following are some useful components that can be included in a state oral health plan:

  • Oral health infrastructure, including current resources, gaps in resources, and recommendations for eliminating these gaps.
  • Description of priority populations and burden of oral diseases.
  • Healthy People 2020 objectives and state-specific objectives.
  • Strategies for addressing oral health promotion across the lifespan.
  • Strategies for implementing oral disease prevention programs.
  • Partnerships and strategies for leveraging resources.
  • Programs to address dental caries, including water fluoridation and school-based or school-linked dental sealant programs.
  • Programs to address prevention of oral cancer and periodontal diseases.
  • Programs addressing infection control in dental settings.
  • Recommendations for evaluation, including monitoring outcomes related to plan implementation.
  • Best practices identified for replication.
  • A process to maintain the state plan, including roles and responsibilities of state and local agencies.

A state oral health plan can be enhanced by including a written and published action plan and by providing guidance for major policy development initiatives (See Activity 6). The plan can be marketed as the guiding document for oral health initiatives in the state. States may be able to increase support and stakeholder engagement during the plan implementation.

Additional Resources

State Oral Health Plans – A repository of recent state oral health plans.

State Plan Review Index Tool [PDF–85K] – A checklist for planning a state oral health plan.

Framework for developing a state oral health plan – A flow chart depicting the foundations of developing a comprehensive state oral health plan.

Overview of development of a state oral health plan – A flow chart of the overall process of developing a state oral health plan.

The State Oral Health Policy Comparison Tool – A Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) tool that provides information on state oral health plans and allows easy comparisons between states.

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