There is an oral health crisis in North Carolina that impacts North Carolinians of all ages and in every county. Poor oral health results in more than just tooth decay. It has consequences that dramatically lower quality of life impacting overall health, health care costs, ability to learn and employability.
The causes for this crisis are: inequities in access to dental care, high out of pocket costs of care, and lack of understanding of the principles of basic prevention among the general public (and even health care providers).
Just a Few Statistics: According to a May 2015 CDC data brief: more than one in four adults ages 20-64 have untreated dental caries. A breakdown by ethnicity is particularly troubling: 42% of African-American adults and 36% of Hispanic adults have untreated disease, as compared to the 22% of Caucasians.
In North Carolina, 37% of children entering kindergarten have already been affected by tooth decay. These rates are almost double in some ethnic, rural, or low-income communities.
But there is a SOLUTION: Through a combination of heightened public awareness, better access to care, and more coordination between the medical and dental communities, the painful and limiting consequences of this disease are almost entirely preventable.
Enter the NC Oral Health Collaborative:
Vision of Impact: In 2020, all North Carolinians recognize dental disease is preventable and can access quality and affordable oral health services to achieve better overall health and well-being.
Purpose: The North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative convenes diverse stakeholders to identify and resolve consumer-level and systemic barriers to good oral health and to accelerate implementation of policies and practices that reduce oral health disparities and promote improved oral health for all North Carolinians.
Values: Our values are both a way to prioritize our work and a call to action. They express our underlying assumptions about what it will take to improve oral health for all North Carolinians.
- Prevention – Increasing acceptance and adoption of preventive interventions is the most effective way to reduce incidence and burden of disease.
- Whole person care – Oral health is a critical component of good overall health throughout a person’s life span and a focus on oral health is a component of the comprehensive medical home.
- Equity – Addressing complex barriers to accessing oral health services will reduce health disparities.
- Cultural competence – Respectful interaction between providers and patients and their families is a critical component of quality care.
- Patient engagement – We promote service delivery that engages and supports patients to learn more about their health and to set personal goals to increase healthy behaviors. We work with consumers to develop the Collaborative’s agenda and strategic direction.
- Efficiency – Our oral health care system works best when patients have access to the right care at the right place at the right time, this may not be in a dentist’s office.
- Guided by Science and Evidence – While we welcome and value different perspectives, we endeavor to base our policy recommendations on scientific evidence, proven best practices, and tested pilot models.
Guiding Principles: Our guiding principles are a compass for decision making and provide context about how the work needs to be done.
- Accountability – We make decisions consistent with the best interests of the people of North Carolina.
- Boldness – We are willing to have tough conversations, to innovate and to take bold action to challenge positions that are inconsistent with the common good.
- Collaboration – We are better together. We communicate and work as a team, and we partner with the community to understand and solve problems.
- Commitment – We ask our members to devote time and energy in service of the shared direction.
- Impact – We make a measurable difference. We use data to drive to drive our decisions. We actively promote best practices that have robust evidence.
Our collective work is to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to good dental care, provided by someone they trust, in a timely and compassionate manner. AND, that this would be the case regardless of geography, socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, age or mental/physical ability.
There is undeniable power in collective action. Transforming the landscape of oral health in our state will require us to work across differences in sectors, political ideology, program silos, and geography towards common goals. Undoubtedly, there is great potential for dramatic change within our lifetime. Together we can change the landscape of oral health in North Carolina.
The work of the NC Oral Health Collaborative is given direction based on our values and guiding principles, which were collectively developed by our stakeholders and partners. They help steer the desired outcomes of our initiatives, as well as how we carry out our work.
To actively engage with and participate in the NCOHC, sign our Statement of Support
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