Oral Health Policy Development

The current system for providing oral health care to people with a variety of special needs is not providing adequate care. As outlined in the consensus statement and background papers in the August and September 2005 issues of the California Dental Association Journal, the current system is expected to become even less adequate in the future. It is imperative that new models for providing oral health services be developed that are targeted to the needs of these populations.

The Pacific Center for Special Care received funding from the San Francisco Foundation to support and continue the work we began through the Statewide Task Force for Oral Health and Special Needs and Oral Health and Aging (Task Force). Our goals include identifying policy objectives and advocating for policy reform to improve oral health for people with special needs.

We have identified 31 issues in six major categories that are potential targets for policy reform to achieve this goal.


Six workgroups were initially formed to address the major categories for policy reform. After completing their research and data collection, the groups were restructured, and a new group, Hospital Dentistry and General Anesthesia, was formed to address the limited access to these type of services throughout the state for people with special needs. Below is a listing of the original workgroups.

Workgroup #1

Alter incentive systems for oral health professionals in order to increase their ability and willingness to work with people with special needs.

Workgroup #2

Alter incentive systems for professional caregivers to increase the attention they devote to maintaining the oral health of the people they work with. Update: This workgroup has merged with workgroup #4 and is focusing on oral health & long-term care facilities.

Workgroup #3

Identify specific areas where additional data will assist policy reform efforts and advocate for collection of data or collect data in these areas. Update: Each workgroup took on the task of collecting its own data. This workgroup no longer is meeting separately.

Workgroup #4

Integrate oral health prevention with community health and social service systems. Update: This workgroup now has merged with workgroup #2.

Workgroup #5

Enhance professional education of for oral health, general health, and social service professionals by including information in their educational curricula about prevention and treatment oral health problems for people with special needs. Update: This workgroup is not meeting at this time.

Workgroup #6

Expand the oral health workforce to include additional levels of practitioners with expanded scope of duties to adequately address oral health of people with special needs.