• Although it is improving slowly, the racial and ethnic profile of the dental workforce does not reflect the population as a whole.
• Several models of new and emerging dental professionals have been developed, but little research exists on which type has the most promise to improve access or how they can best be integrated into the workforce and targeted to vulnerable populations.
• Interprofessional, team-based care has the potential to improve care-cooridination, patient outcomes, and produce cost savings, yet most health care professionals are not trained to work in either intra- or interdisciplinary teams.
• While the regulation of health care professions occurs at the state level, HHS has a role to play in the demonstration and testing of new workforce models.
Education and Training
• Many nondental health care professionals are well suited and willing to integrate oral health care into the primary care setting, but they are not trained to do so.
• Nondental health care professionals have a significant role to play in oral health promotion and disease prevention, especially for children. Key modalities include basic examinations and risk assessments, patient and caregiver counseling, and the application of topical fluorides.
• In general, dentists do not use a universally accepted diagnosis coding system.
• Oral health lags significantly behind the remainder of the health care system in developing quality measures, and as a result, little is known about the quality of oral health care.
• Much more needs to be done to improve the quality assessment, improvement, and reporting efforts in oral health in order to answer some of the basic questions regarding improving oral health and oral health access.
AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges). 2008. Contemporary issues in medicine: Oral health education for medical and dental students. Washington, DC: American Association of Medical Colleges.