P O Box 2309
Boise ID 83701-2309
History of the Idaho Oral Health Alliance 1998 - 2008
The Idaho Oral Health Alliance (IOHA) was formed in May 1998 by individuals and organizations with an interest in improving oral health and access to dental care for Idaho children and adults. The State MCH Oral Health Program convened the first meeting. A representative from Oral Health America was brought in to share his expertise and provide guidance to the new Alliance. Participants included representatives from public and private business, health, and education entities: Delta Dental, Regence Blue Shield and Blue Cross of Idaho, Medicaid, the State Oral Health Program, PTA of Idaho, School Nurses Organization of Idaho, District Health Departments, Idaho State Dental Association, Idaho Dental Hygienists' Association, Idaho Primary Care Association, Indian Health Service, Head Start, the Department of Education, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho Perinatal Project, Kids Count, Idaho Public Health Association, and the ISU Department of Dental Hygiene.
Three priority issues were chosen in 1998 as the focus of IOHA efforts to increase access to preventive and restorative dental care in Idaho: 1) increase Medicaid funding, 2) expand service delivery through community dental clinics, and 3) dental screening and referral of preschool, kindergarten and second grade students.
During 1999, a priority effort for IOHA members was development of a statewide dental sealant project to provide free dental sealants to every second grade child, particularly those without access to regular preventive dental care. A planning committee for the Seal Idaho 2000 project was formed, co-chaired by the MCH Oral Health Program Manager and the Idaho State Dental Association President-Elect. Idaho’s Governor and First Lady were Honorary Chairs.
In 2000, the major collaborative effort for IOHA members was the statewide Seal Idaho 2000 project. The program received a jump-start from the Governor, who promoted the project and children’s dental health during his State of the State address in January 2000. This was followed with television commercials that featured the governor, radio spots and local news media coverage, including 41 newspaper articles about the project. Project partners included the Idaho State Dental Association, the MCH Oral Health Program, district health departments, local dentists and dental hygienists, the Idaho Dental Hygienists’ Association, schools and others. Oral Health America donated $50,000 of sealant material. Delta Dental Plan of Idaho and Blue Cross helped defray printing costs. Facilitation and administrative support for all IOHA meetings and Seal Idaho 2000 was provided by the MCH Oral Health Program.
The Idaho Oral Health Alliance (IOHA) members continued to meet in 2000 to discuss issues, trends, disparities, opportunities and interventions for improving oral health. The following priority focus areas were identified for action:
At the March 2001 IOHA meeting, members agreed that convening an oral health summit was a critical first step for addressing these priorities and formed a Summit Planning Task Force, chaired by the MCH Oral Health Program Manager. As a result, a major IOHA activity during 2001 was preparing to convene the Idaho Oral Health Summit. Planning committee members met with each member of Idaho’s congressional delegation and the Governor's office to elicit support. Summit preparation included contracting with facilitators, identifying speakers, obtaining funding and consultation with Region X staff and other State dental directors. The purpose of the summit was to bring together policy makers, health professionals and others to explore how a fully funded and maximized dental public health program can implement preventive dental programs, increase access and improve oral health.
In November 2001, the first Idaho Oral Health Summit was convened by the Idaho Oral Health Alliance. Approximately 150 persons participated in the Summit, including dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, nurses, educators and representatives from private and public agencies. Participants looked at the oral health access issues confronting Idaho and identified potential solutions in the areas of policy and funding, access to care, and prevention/education. Professional facilitators guided all discussion and plan development. The MCH Oral Health Program coordinated the Summit. The Summit was funded by the MCH Block Grant, a HRSA grant and donations from Regence Blue Shield, Delta Dental Plan of Idaho, the Idaho Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Idaho Dairy Council.
In 2002, two follow-up Summit planning meetings were convened. The following six priority goals were developed, along with short- and long-term strategies, to increase access to primary dental care, reduce disease and improve oral health in Idaho:
Strengthen the dental public health infrastructure;
Explore expansion of scope of practice for dental hygienists and certified dental assistants;
Educate legislators to establish oral health as a funded statewide priority;
Integrate oral health into primary medical care, e.g. prenatal care, well-baby care;
Expand availability of dental services provided through community health center clinics;
Fluoridate community water systems.
During 2002 and 2003, IOHA member efforts were directed to three of the State Oral Health Plan goals that resulted from the 2001 oral health summit:
In 2004, IOHA members decided to incorporate and apply for non-profit status as a 501 (c)(3) organization. By-Laws were adopted, a Policy and Procedures Manual written and officers elected. IOHA members continue their efforts individually and collectively to improve access to preventive and restorative dental health care. Notably:
In July 2004, three standing committees were formed to build a framework for future action and increase IOHA impact:
During 2005, a priority project was development of a public service television campaign to brand IOHA and raise awareness about the importance of good oral health during pregnancy and early childhood. The project was funded by donations from Regence Blue Shield, Delta Dental, Blue Cross of Idaho, Willamette Dental and a private donor. The PSAs aired in southwest Idaho August through December 2005, reaching 52,000 persons in the 19-35 year age group in lower income households.
In 2006, the Idaho Oral Health Alliance partnered with Idaho State University to convene the first Oral Health and Wellness Track as part of the 2006 Idaho Conference on Health Care, held annually in Pocatello. Funding was obtained from all of the major health insurers to bring three nationally recognized presenters, Dr. Mark Lingen from the University of Chicago, Dr. David Wong from UCLA, and Dr. Kathy Phipps from the Oregon Health Sciences University, to the conference. Registration for the oral health track totaled 185 persons, the largest number registered for a single track at the conference.The main IOHA focus in 2007 was to convene an Oral Health Summit November 9, 2007 in Boise. The purpose was to bring together public and private partners with a shared concern for improving the oral health of Idaho children and families. The Summit was the first step in developing a comprehensive Oral Health Plan for Idaho.