Recognizing the significant role that oral health plays in overall health, the National Association for Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health (DOH), held the first meeting of the Medical Dental Integration Steering Committee in March.
The 10-person committee is charged with guiding a national framework for expanding medical and dental integration (MDI) programs throughout the United States. In partnership with the CDC, NACDD is the only membership association of its kind to serve and represent every chronic disease division, according to its membership. By forming this committee, NACDD said, it raises awareness of the importance of oral health.
“Science is rapidly uncovering the link between oral health and systemic health, and we are dedicated to the seamless integration we call the Mouth Body Connection,” said Daniel Burke, a member of the Framework Steering Committee and chief enterprise strategy officer at dental services organization (DSO) Pacific Dental Services (PDS). “It is an honor to be asked to serve on this committee, especially given the work we have been doing in this space.”
Research shows that harmful bacteria and inflammation in the mouth can indicate and even cause systemic conditions throughout the body, including cardiovascular disease, oral cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and more, PDS said. Integrating oral and systemic health has the potential to create a seamless, comprehensive healthcare system focused on whole body health, the DSO said.
In September of 2020, the CDC asked the NACDD to develop a national framework for medical-dental integration, The framework would outline opportunities to integrate medical and dental services in different healthcare and public health settings to support populations with unmet oral health needs and associated chronic diseases, the NACDD said. The first year of the project is focused on examining current programmatic and clinical medical-dental integration strategies.
“The potential benefits for patient care, cost reduction, and medical research is boundless,” said Stephen E. Thorne, founder and CEO of PDS, “and we are honored that one of its leaders is part of a committee dedicated to significant, meaningful healthcare change.”