Is Iowa ready to face a hidden truth? The mouth and body are not puzzled about their impact on one another or the body. All medical health providers know that intact skin is essential to protect the body from germs. However, few are aware or consider the mouth as an open highway for germs and infection. Why is this important aspect of health ignored?

A divided system of health care and finance has driven unnecessary complexities in accessing care. Puzzling…why is this so? What benefit does a divided health delivery system have for Iowans? Why important health services like oral health remained separate from the general health care system seems a mystery or ignored.

One reason is for most Iowans with regular access to both medical and dental care, this does not present a big concern; however, many underserved Iowans that access some medical care are unable to access dental care. This gap in care can be as important as life and death.

There is good news, these questions are occurring across the nation; alas, what should have been obvious is becoming real. The U.S. Surgeon General will release a report on oral health in late 2020. This is the second publication on the status of oral health in American from a U.S. Surgeon General in history. It will be a response and update on the charge to close the great gap in oral health described in the 2000 report commissioned by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. Medical care and dental care are one aspect of the same purpose, providing health care and maintaining the health of Iowans!

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University is convening a symposium on medical-dental integration on November 15, 2019. This symposium will include national and state experts to address Iowa’s medical, dental, and health system leaders to discuss the history, barriers, research innovations, and opportunities to close the health care gap.

Awareness is vital for innovation to occur. The Harkin Institute symposium will set the charge to close the gap in Iowa.

Register for Closing the Divide: Integrating Medical and Dental Health Care
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– Written by Bob Russell,  DDS, MPH, MPA, CPM, FACD, Dental Director & Bureau Chief, Oral and Health Delivery Systems Bureau, Iowa Department of Public Health and a presenter for this event.

Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311 Phone: 515-271-3623 Fax Number: 515-271-3631 Email: Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.