Oral Fitness
Oral Health for Healthcare Providers 
What is the Health Care Provider’s Role in Oral Health?  All health care providers should make sure that their patients understand the importance of maintaining good oral health. Every health care provider is “on the front line” in the war against oral disease, not just dental health care providers. Research findings are confirming associations between chronic oral diseases and nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, lung diseases, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and low-birth-weight, premature births. The mouth is the window to overall health and well-being.

An ever-increasing body of literature is fleshing out the connection between oral diseases and systemic conditions such as: cardiovascular disease, stroke, and bacterial pneumonia. Poor oral health has also been shown to be associated with preterm, low birth weight, and poor glycemic control among diabetics. Learn more at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. external link

Changing Health Behaviors

Many primary care providers do not practice preventive medicine because they believe that their patient either cannot or will not change. Believe it or not, change is normal. But the time it takes to change, and the motivation for doing so, are different for different people.  A review of the Transtheoretical Model of Intentional Behavior Change can help in understanding why and how people change.

Detailed Overview of the Transtheoretical Model - Cancer Prevention Research Center  external link

Some patients have not thought about changing their harmful behaviors. Other patients may need help finding motivation for change. The principles of Motivational Interviewing external link can help providers help their patients adopt healthy behaviors.



Oral Health Resources for Health Care Providers

MedEdPortal - Providing Online Resources to Advance Learning in Medical Education external link
MedEdPORTAL is a central repository of peer-reviewed resources, graphics, tutorials, lab manuals assessment instruments, and faculty development materials, as well as an inventory of virtual patient cases. This storehouse of knowledge and tools, contributed to by faculty and students throughout the world, is available free to other educators and learners, thereby diminishing the need to duplicate valuable and expensive-to-produce resources. The portal will now include dental education resources and will begin accepting submissions from dental professionals.

Detecting Oral Cancer: A Guide for Health Care Professionals external link National Institute of Dental and Carniofacial Research provides a comprehensive website with information on oral cancer, from incidence and the importance of early detection to how to do an oral cancer screening examination.

Mother's Vitamin D Status During Pregnancy Will Affect Her Baby's Dental Health external link Low maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy may affect primary tooth calcification, leading to enamel defects, which are a risk factor for early-childhood tooth decay. During the 86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, investigators presented the results of a study they conducted to determine the vitamin D status of pregnant women, the incidence of enamel defects and early-childhood tooth decay among their infants, and the relationship with pre-natal vitamin D levels.

Healthy Teeth and Happy Smiles external link Website from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry to help parents find information about keeping thier children's teeth healthy and related topics.

Infant and Young Child Dental Health Brochures external link  The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center has brochures in English and Spanish. All brochures are written in an easy-to-read style that is appropriate for all audiences, including those with lower literacy levels.

DENCOM Dental Readiness and Community Oral Health Protection Program

Because of the interdependence of general health and oral health, dentists need to focus on the entire body and well being of the individual. This was the vision of MG Patrick Sculley, when he decreed, “…put more dental into health promotion and more health promotion into the Army Dental Care System”. The DENCOM Dental Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program has incorporated this vision.

The DENCOM Health Promotion and Disease Prevention components include:

  • Blood Pressure Screening
  • Caries Risk Assessment and Interventions
  • Family Violence
  • Flourides
  • Mouthguard Education
  • Nutrition
  • Sealants
  • Skin, lip and oral cancer screening and counseling
  • Tobacco Risk Assessment

In order to keep providers abreast of the most current developments in oral disease prevention, the DENCOM conducts annual training for all DENTAC Dental Readiness Officers. These officers can then, in turn, disseminate the knowledge to other dental providers at their assigned posts. Contact DENCOM Health and Prevention external link for more information.

Continuing Education

Smiles for Life external link
Smiles for Life is a comprehensive oral health curriculum for primary care clinicians developed by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Group on Oral Health. The seven course curriculum is designed to meet the requirements mandating education of physicians in oral health.

Pediatric Oral Health

During Pregnancy and Early Childhood external link
New York State Department of Health website with info and Clinical Practice Guidelines 

Open Wide: Oral Health Training for Health Professionals external link Modules designed to help health and early childhood professionals working in community settings promote oral health in the course of promoting general health for infants, children, and their families.

Pediatric Oral Health Management external link A health professional's guide: seven modules designed to assist health professionals in managing the oral health of infants and young children.

Dental health screening and fluoride varnish application external link Training slide presentation sponsored by Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota.

Special care external link An oral health professional's guide to serving young children with special health care need.

The Baby Oral Health Program external link This educational setting educates dental health care providers on the principles of infant and toddler oral health in order to equip them with the necessary tools to be comfortable and competent at providing preventive oral health services for young children.

TrainingFinder Real-time Affiliate Integrated Network (TRAIN) external link

The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center has listed distance learning curricula with TRAIN.  The curricula are free and can be taken for a completion certificate through TRAIN. Train completion certificates may be recognized by your state; check your state's licensing requirements. Some of the curricula offer continuing education credits as noted below. Please share the availability of these free distance learning curricula with your colleagues.

IMPORTANT: To earn the completion certificate (for those ineligible for credits):
1. Register at Train.org
2. Search for a course
3. Register and read the course, but **do not** take the assessment on the curriculum site
4. Return to Train to mark the course complete in "My Learning"
5. Take the assessment on Train.

Oral Pathology

Oral pathology image database (University of Iowa)

Geriatric oral health

University of Iowa Geriatric Education Center external link Resources for educators/health professionals on geriatric oral health

Ethnogeriatrics external link Stanford University core curriculum and ethnic specific modules

Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center external link Training to health professions faculty, students, and practitioners about geriatrics and gerontology

Health Communication

Gateway to Health Communication & Social Marketing Practice external link Access many resources to help build your health communication or social marketing campaigns and programs.