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Increasing Collaboration

Recently, while reading online, this headline caught my attention: “Dentists to Test Patients’ Blood Pressure Under New Program.”

Recently, while reading online, this headline caught my attention: “Dentists to Test Patients’ Blood Pressure Under New Program.”1 At first glance, I wondered why this would be newsworthy. Isn’t screening part of what oral health professionals routinely do? After reading further, however, I learned that Maryland and five other states—Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, and New York—received a $3 million grant from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin a pilot program, as well as several others. While the Maryland grant focuses specifically on blood pressure monitoring, programs in the other five states will provide different services and education—all meant to create close partnerships between the organizations working to improve oral and overall health. The team-based approach of these programs is what makes them exciting and newsworthy. The focus of each state is:

  • Alaska: Education on reducing the consumption of sugar-containing beverages
  • Colorado: Diabetes prevention and management
  • Georgia: Tobacco cessation for pregnant women
  • Minnesota: Screening for periodontal diseases and hypertension
  • New York: Healthy beverage media campaigns targeting African American and Hispanic teenage boys

As you can see, each program focuses on specific at-risk populations. What’s important is that, in each state, oral health and public health professionals are working together to improve the population’s health. For example, in Maryland, the Office of Oral Health and the CDC are working together. In Minnesota, the Oral Health Program and the Cardiovascular Health Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health are collaborating.

In each of these states, oral health professionals are involved, as well as their medical colleagues. In fact, Casey Hannan, MPH, acting director of the CDC’s Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, told the American Dental Association News, “Through these programs, we will facilitate close collaborative relationships that lead to integration between the state oral health programs and state chronic disease programs around common risk factors for oral and chronic diseases.”2 Such collaborations will hopefully improve the public’s health and foster interprofessional teamwork.

I applaud the CDC for starting these programs and supporting interprofessional collaboration. Dental hygienists will be among the oral health professionals most likely to participate in these programs, and I know they will be key to the success of such collaborations.


  1. Cohn M. Dentists to test patients blood pressure under new program. Baltimore Sun. October 3, 2016.
  2. American Dental Association News. CDC Announces $3 Million in Awards to Strengthen Chronic Disease,Oral Health Program Collaborations. Available at:$3-million-in-awards. Accessed October 13, 2016.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. November 2016;14(11):10.


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