Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today released the Pennsylvania Oral Health Plan 2020-2030, a 10-year roadmap to improve the oral health of all Pennsylvanians.
The plan builds on the successes of the Pennsylvania Oral Health Plan 2017-2020 while identifying key gaps that still need to be filled.
It contains a list of proven strategies and best practices known to increase access to oral health care, prevent oral disease, and reduce health disparities for vulnerable populations whose oral health is too often adversely impacted.
“Oral disease is a preventable public health issue that can impact overall health and lead to conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Levine said. “Oral health also affects quality of life one’s ability to eat, speak, and express emotions while living pain free. Not one organization, coalition or state agency can work alone to combat oral disease. That is why we worked together to outline critical steps forward to improve the oral health of Pennsylvanians of all ages and enable them to lead happy, healthy and productive lives over the next decade.”
A core component of the plan is the collaborative development and planned implementation over the past 18 months by hundreds of stakeholders towards the formation of the plan.
Private and public approaches must focus on developing the resources, skills and opportunities to implement strategies that will positively affect oral health status.
As a result of the collective efforts, engagement and support of Pennsylvania’s oral health stakeholders and partners, and with the PA Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) as a key administrative partner to the department, this plan outlines three main oral health priority areas: access, prevention and education; workforce; and infrastructure improvement.
While this plan is implemented, the department will continue to involve partners and stakeholders to gather feedback, assess continued needs and incorporate new thoughts and ideas as needed to best support oral health and wellness across the commonwealth.
In order to further this plan, the Department of Health competed and received more than $4 million in two major multi-year federal grants through 2023 to focus on oral health workforce issues.
This funding will allow Pennsylvania to implement evidence-based interventions and awareness to improve oral health in school-aged children and communities who lack the resources to optimally fluoridate their public water systems.