What They’re Watching: Diane Oakes, Arcora Foundation

Diane Oakes is the President and CEO of Arcora Foundation. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss the importance of oral health.

“The medical community is getting more and more engaged in oral health — especially prevention of oral disease. Our foundation actually engages and trains medical providers across the state to deliver oral health preventive services during well-child visits and other medical visits. And about 45% of pediatricians and family practitioners in our state have been trained, and many of them are delivering these services. So more and more kids, when they go to their doctor’s visits, they are getting looked in the mouth, and getting fluoride varnish, and getting referred to dental providers when needed. So, that trend is increasing in our state, and our state’s one of the leaders in the country.

I think it’s important for policymakers to understand that oral disease is an indicator of health status and social status for people in our state — and the disparities are significant. People of color, children of color, and low-income populations are significantly more likely to experience tooth decay and gum disease. And this impacts their employability, it impacts their ability to learn in school, and to have healthy aging. And so, as we think about our health care system for our state, we need to remember that whole person health includes dental, includes the mouth and to make sure we’re helping everybody have access to care.”