The Alaska Oral Health Program provides leadership to improve oral health for all Alaskans. The program has partnered with Alaska Dental Action Coalition representative agencies and organizations throughout the state to develop the Alaska Oral Health Plan 2012-2016. The Plan’s goals and objectives guide the Oral Health Program with oral health data collection, workforce development, safe use of fluorides, access to dental services and support of prevention programs.
ALASKA ORAL HEALTH PLAN The Plan provides policy makers with baseline data on oral health status and identifies oral health disparities through demographic data. The Plan is a framework for implementation of policy to address identified disparities and help improve the oral health of all Alaskans. An overview of oral health in Alaska can be found in the State Oral Health Plan.
ORAL HEALTH DATA COLLECTION An integrated, comprehensive Oral Health Surveillance System (OHSS) is maintained by the program. Information from the OHSS is used with the oral disease burden document (see information in the Alaska Oral Health Plan 2012-2016) and some indicators are submitted to the National Oral Health Surveillance System maintained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT The emphasis is on supporting the dental workforce that cares for the underserved population in Alaska. Community Health Centers and Tribally operated facilities are the primary employers and are eligible for federal loan repayment programs. The Plan’s priority recommendation is to implement a state funded loan repayment and incentive program for workforce recruitment and retention in hard to place areas of the state. The Program also supports the provision of continuing education for dental professionals on dental treatment to special needs populations.
FLUORIDES The focus is to improve the public’s awareness of community water fluoridation, the delivery of optimal fluoridation in community water systems and improve access to alternative fluoride delivery systems to residents without fluoride in their drinking water system. The Program works with the Alaska Drinking Water Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and promote optimal quality water fluoridation to prevent dental decay. Residents can learn more about fluoride in their community water system at My Water’s Fluoride.
ACCESS TO DENTAL SERVICES The state Medicaid Program provides coverage for underserved Alaskans that qualify. The Program monitors Medicaid dental services covered, reimbursement issues and participation by private and public dental professionals to assure adequate access to care.
PREVENTION PROGRAMS The Oral Health Program partners with statewide oral health programs on initiatives to help increase utilization of dental services for high-risk children and youth in Alaska. Alaska’s Medicaid program covers oral health preventive services for children age <21 and includes the application of dental sealants. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has an active dental sealant program for children and youth who qualify for Tribally funded health care services. Access to dental sealants is currently available at federally funded Community Health Centers, Medicaid enrolled oral health providers, dental clinics or itinerant providers in rural communities operated by Tribal health organizations and private dental offices.