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Getting Involved: Community Efforts to Improve Oral Health

Community Efforts

Many dentists are generous with their time and talents, volunteering for Missions of Mercy, Give Kids A Smile and other state or local oral health care access programs. But how can dentists go beyond these special events and take leadership in improving their communities’ oral health? 

When it comes to oral health community integration, the efforts of one dentist can go a long way in improving access to care, enhancing oral health literacy and building coalitions beneficial to the profession.

It’s also good business. Whether you work to engage physicians in oral health, advocate for community water fluoridation or work with schools to provide mouthguards for athletic teams, you are providing a service that is beneficial to the community and reflects well on you, your business and the profession.

“Sounds good,” you say, “but where do I start?”

The ADA has designed a toolkit just for that purpose. The toolkit, comprised of dozens of helpful links (found below), is intended to encourage dentists to take a proactive role in making sure that oral health is an integral part of improving the overall health of their communities.

Community Leader Toolkit

Current toolkit items, which address many of the opportunities and challenges that local dentists encounter when moving beyond their dental practices into their communities, include:

Items supporting growth of the local oral health safety net include:

Leadership within communities necessarily leads to consideration of where one fits within the larger public health infrastructure.