In discussions with this committee, HRSA expressed a desire for recommendations that could be acted upon quickly, but also have enough flexibility to allow HHS to choose among several methods of implementation. The approach and details of the previously outlined recommendations do just this. Many of the recommendations are not necessarily “new”; as the title of this report suggests, the challenges and strategies illuminated by Oral Health in America remain the areas that have the strongest evidence for actions by HHS to advance oral health in America.

The recommendations provided in this report align with the current HHS Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2010–2015. Some of the specific objectives and strategies of this plan include ensuring access to quality, culturally competent care for vulnerable populations; strengthening oral health research; and promoting models of oral health care that use a variety of new and existing health care professionals. The recommendations of this report also align with the mission of HHS: “to enhance the health and well-being of Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.”

Bringing disparate sectors together to effect significant change is a daunting task, but it is well suited to the mission and responsibilities of HHS. This report focuses on the role HHS can play in improving oral health and shaping oral health care in America—in particular, on the ways in which HHS can have the most impact. There are many reasons that HHS should seize this opportunity. However, most important is the burden that oral diseases are placing on the health and well-being of the American people.

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