Vermont Department of Health Releases Plan to Address Oral Health

DATE: April 5, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health announced today the release of the Vermont Oral Health Plan, a comprehensive plan with a vision for all Vermonters to achieve and sustain optimal oral health.

Vermont is among the leading states in the nation in addressing oral health and dental access needs. Vermont’s coverage of oral health services for children and dentist participation in the Medicaid program are among the highest in the country.

“Despite these achievements, there are many areas in which Vermont can improve,” said Steve Arthur, Director of the Office of Oral Health.

In 2000, the U.S. Surgeon General released the first-ever report on oral health, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. The reported noted: “…a silent epidemic of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens – poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups.”

Vermont’s new Oral Health Plan is designed to address individual and community oral health needs in Vermont. The Plan focuses on four major areas: 1) Public Health Infrastructure 2) Prevention and Health Promotion 3) Workforce and 4) Financing and Delivery Systems.

“Research clearly identifies the role oral health plays in overall health (including low birth weight, diabetes and cardiovascular disease), however public awareness of these links continues to be limited. Tooth decay is still the leading chronic disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma,” said Dr. Arthur, “We all have a lot of work to do.”

The Governor, recognizing Vermont's oral health needs, proposed an initiative for this year's budget "Smile Vermont - Improving Children's Oral Health," which would place dental hygienists in each of Vermont's district health offices.

"The initiative would link closely with the Vermont Blueprint for Health Chronic Care Initiative and is designed to directly improve oral health prevention and health promotion at the community level - an important first step in implementing the Oral Health Plan objectives," Dr. Arthur said.

The Oral Health Plan can be found at the Vermont Department of Health web site: http://healthvermont.gov/pubs/oral_healthplan.pdf

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