Facilitators & Barriers to Advancing Oral Health

State oral health programs should conduct a periodic assessment of laws, regulations, administrative policies, and systems-level strategies that offer the potential to reduce oral diseases.

The assessment can reveal opportunities for overcoming barriers, capitalizing on assets available in the state, increasing capacity, and coordinating prevention interventions. In addition, the assessment can help a state develop a policy action plan and implement a set of activities that include the priorities established from the assessment process.

The state oral health program management will then have the information necessary to educate policy makers about how to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the state oral health program.

Examples of such changes in health systems and policies include mandates for fluoridation in communities with water systems that serve a specified number of households and increased Medicaid reimbursement for specific oral health services.

State oral health programs with assessment capacity should:

  • Implement policies that support evidence- and population-based strategies consistent with the state oral health plan. Examples may be oral health policies, legislation, regulations, ordinances, guidelines and standards that promote optimal oral health such as water fluoridation and school-based or school-linked dental sealant programs, and statutory authority for the state oral health program or state dental director position.
  • Improve how population-based interventions address established objectives that are informed by surveillance data and prioritized from the state oral health plan, the policy action plan, or the program strategic plan.
  • Evaluate the impact of and lessons learned from implementation of policies.

Additional Resources

Environment Assessment Instrument Tool (EAI) pdf icon[PDF–92 KB] – The EAI tool was designed to aid systematic assessment of community- and state-level environmental and policy factors that may impact oral health programs at various stages. Results can be used to determine leverage points and to identify barriers, facilitators, and respective strategies to address them.

Children’s Dental Health Project Policy Consensus Toolexternal icon

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