Medical-Dental Integration in Public Health Settings: An Environmental Scan

McKernan, S.C.; Kuthy, R.A.; Reynolds, J.C.; Tuggle, L.; García, D.T.


Noncommunicable chronic diseases (NCDs) account for almost 90% of total deaths in the United States. The four most common NCDs—cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases—share common risk factors, including cigarette use, alcohol use, and dietary behaviors associated with obesity and elevated blood sugar. The most common oral diseases—dental caries, periodontal disease, and oral cancer—also share these same risk factors. 

A coordinated approach to primary prevention, the “common risk factor approach,” argues that coordinated primary prevention of oral and systemic diseases will reduce programmatic costs, and increase efficiency and effectiveness. However, use and evaluation of this coordinated approach in primary prevention activities in the United States has not been well documented. 

This report describes the results of an environmental scan to identify, categorize, and describe examples of medical-dental integration in US public health settings. Findings are intended to inform public health officials and other stakeholders about existing programs and policies that encourage coordination and integration.