Area of Research

Oral Health Policy

Oral health is a vital component of our physical, social, and emotional well-being. Evidence increasingly links dental disease with poor health outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as heart disease. Since 1991, the PPC has investigated a broad range of dental topics in collaboration with investigators at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics. We focus on conducting research that informs oral health policy at local, state, and national levels.

Major areas of oral health policy research include:

  • Access to dental care among vulnerable populations
  • Impact of the Affordable Care Act on oral health and delivery of care
  • The oral health safety net
  • The patient-centered dental home
  • Adequacy of Iowa’s oral health workforce

Examples of oral health research activities at the PPC include outcomes analysis, dental workforce evaluations, and surveys of dental patients and providers. Oral health policy and outcomes research is frequently integrated with other studies on overall health here at the PPC.

Most of the PPC’s oral health research has historically focused on children who face barriers to receiving dental care – especially those within Medicaid and other public programs, children with special health care needs, and those in foster care. The PPC also evaluates the impact of policy changes on access to dental care, including adult populations. Currently, our team is examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the oral health safety net in Iowa. This includes a comprehensive evaluation of the Iowa Dental Wellness Plan – the new state dental insurance program for Medicaid expansion adults.