Introduction

Purpose of the Oral Health Guide

The Oral Health Guide, along with the corresponding online database of vetted community-based oral health programs, aims to help groups at the state and local levels start or enhance their own oral health programs for older adults. Here, community-based entities can find key tips, case studies, and other sources of support for creating such programs, both cost effective and sustainable. If your community already has an oral health program in place for older adults, the Oral Health Guide can help you expand it. In addition, recognizing the connection between oral health and overall health, the Oral Health Guide contains advice and links to resources concerning person-centered care and interprofessional collaboration.

Who Should Use the Oral Health Guide

This Oral Health Guide is intended for entities with a stake in promoting oral health among older adults, including coalitions, state and local governments, advocacy groups, health centers, foundations, dental and medical associations, universities, hospitals, Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), senior centers, and other health and social service organizations.

How to Use the Oral Health Guide

Presented in a “roadmap” of bulleted and numbered lists for clarity and easy access to information, each Oral Health Guide section addresses an important step in developing an adult oral health program. Although the sections are generally organized in sequential order (beginning with the first steps of the program development process), the sections you use and the order in which you use them depends on your community’s unique circumstances and needs. A supplementary source of knowledge and ideas, the Oral Health Guide functions as a printable checklist to which you can refer throughout the program development process. Keep in mind that these tips are neither comprehensive nor are they proven best practices; rather, they’re based on the experiences of, and the lessons learned from, other oral health programs as well as on guidance from oral health experts and other oral health program manuals. When using the Oral Health Guide, it is essential to create timelines that prioritize key tasks and goals corresponding to each step in the development process for your own specific needs.

As well as the fundamental steps of the development process, five Key Concepts, or promising practices for program development, are integrated throughout the Oral Health Guide. Similar to the rest of the Oral Health Guide, the Key Concepts needn’t be considered in sequential order, but rather may influence the development process at every step. You’ll find additional guidance documents and resources listed at the end of each section and potential funding sources used by other oral health programs listed in Appendix A.


[1] Person-centered care, or patient-centered care, is defined as “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions. ”Institute of Medicine (2001). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report Files/2001/Crossing-the-Quality-Chasm/Quality Chasm 2001 report brief.pdf