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Minnesota's Oral Health Plan

The Client

Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program

The Challenge

Launch a new program. In 2000, the US Surgeon General called tooth decay the most common chronic childhood disease and described a "silent epidemic of oral disease" affecting the nation's poor children. Recognition was growing that oral health is a critical component of overall health. In response, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) used federal funding to launch a dedicated Oral Health Program, in order to address disparities in oral health and to create and implement Minnesota's first Oral Health Plan.

The Approach

The program goals included: Develop infrastructure, promote prevention, create a long-term state oral health plan, establish a statewide coalition to support implementation of the plan and then implement the plan. The program director asked MAD to guide the program through some of its early phases including helping to organize and facilitate three state Oral Health summits, facilitating planning sessions that resulted in the Minnesota State Oral Health Plan, helping to build a strong coalition to carry out the plan's goals, and leading the state staff through a strategic planning process. MAD supported the program's overall development, which enabled the staff to focus on oral health, epidemiology and other public health functions in which they had expertise. MAD's role included:

  • Leading the planning and facilitating small group vision sessions at the first Minnesota Oral Health Summit in 2009.
  • Assisting in developing a process for engaging stakeholders in drafting the state plan, which was shared at the 2011 summit, where MAD again assisted with planning and facilitation.
  • Helping the coalition's newly formed board of directors to clarify its role, purpose, structure and relationships to the MDH, other partner organizations and the wider coalition membership.
  • Helping plan the third statewide oral health summit. MAD focused on engaging summit participants so that they not only received the latest information from the field, but contributed recommendations for ongoing integration between oral health and overall health.

The Results

In 2013, the MDH Oral Health Program released the first state oral health plan, and the oral health coalition held elections and launched "goal groups" to promote the state plan's seven goals. The Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation awarded $300,000 to the Oral Health Program for creating an online data system for tracking oral disease trends and $100,000 per year to the Oral Health Coalition to support its infrastructure and activities over the next three years. The MDH Oral Health Program has clarified its role in partnership with the coalition in implementing the state plan.

The Consultant

Barb Deming |


The Oral Health Program
The Minnesota Oral Health Coalition
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