Health Literacy: A Potential Pathway to Connecting Dental Health with General Health
Health of the mouth is integral to overall health, though dental health often is not considered a part of general health. Commonly diagnosed chronic conditions such as type II diabetes may be associated with periodontal (gum) disease in adults and the most common chronic health condition of children is dental caries [tooth decay]. While no one reason adequately explains why dental health and general hearth are disconnected, integration of the two is essential for improving population health outcomes. This is especially true for our vulnerable populations.
The purpose of this collaborative is to explore ways in which health literacy principles and practices can promote effective integration of dental health and general health into an actionable primary care model. Creation of this model will incorporate lessons learned from current models and will include perspectives from system players such as patients, providers, health care facilities, insurers and policy makers. The collaborative’s ultimate goal is to catalyze action in the use of health literacy practices to promote integrated, coordinated, patient-centered care.
The collaborative will identify ways in which health literacy approaches can be used to:
• Bolster opportunities and mitigate challenges related to integrating dental health and general health in the primary care setting.
• Promote bidirectional referral within the scope of primary care
• Promote a comprehensive, evidence-based primary health care model that incorporates dental health through the life-span.
• Foster health professional education on integration of dental and general health through the use of health literate practices
• Foster public awareness of importance of integration of dental and general health
• Foster more patient-centered, integrated electronic health records
The Action Collaborative on Connecting Dental Health with General Health is an ad hoc activity associated with the Roundtable on Health Literacy at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The collaborative does not necessarily represent the views of any one organization, the Roundtable on Health Literacy, or the National Academies and has not been subjected to the review procedures of, nor is it a report or product of, the National Academies.