The Idaho Oral Health Alliance (IOHA) was formed in 1998 by individuals and organizations who wanted to improve oral health and access to dental care for Idaho children and adults. In 2000, the major collaborative effort for IOHA members was the statewide Seal Idaho 2000 project. In November 2001, the first Idaho Oral Health Summit was convened. In 2004, IOHA members incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. 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 in Pocatello. Annual Oral Health Summits were held between 2007 and 2013, and during that time, the IOHA participated in the development of a comprehensive Oral Health Plan for Idaho.
In 2013, the board of directors began efforts that would help the IOHA grow, and in August of 2014, the half-time executive director was hired with the support of Delta Dental of Idaho, DentaQuest, and the Idaho Oral Health Program. The IOHA participated in the creation of the 2015-2020 Idaho Oral Health Action Plan and established the Healthy Me is Cavity-Free Collaborative to address the eradication of dental caries in children.
In 2015, the first strategic plan was adopted, the IOHA co-hosted the Idaho Oral Health Summit, and the executive director was appointed to the Idaho Healthcare Coalition (IHC) which is the citizen advisory board that oversees the Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP). The IOHA also became an active partner in the newly created Idaho Oral Health Network organized by the Idaho Oral Health Program.
In 2016, with enhanced participation in the SHIP, the IOHA rewrote its mission statement to provide latitude to create active programs to help inspire optimal oral health for Idahoans through advocacy efforts, education, and continued collaborative partnerships. In 2017, the board of directors updated its long-range plan and reinforced its commitment to lead efforts to integrate oral health into primary care settings across Idaho.
Efforts surrounding the key oral health integration initiative continue. In 2018, the IOHA initiated efforts to create a statewide managed bi-directional referral service between medical and dental providers. The IOHA Referral Network test phase in 2019-2020 proved successful enough to expand to a larger pilot phase by 2021. Also in 2019, the IOHA convinced the administration at Idaho’s first medical school, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) to add oral health to its curriculum. Advocacy efforts during 2019-2020 included support of the Close the Gap Idaho initiative to expand Medicaid, support of the increase in Dental Medicaid reimbursement levels, and support of teledentistry. In late 2019, the IOHA board revived the Healthy Me is Cavity-Free initiative by creating a new ad hoc committee charged with addressing the issue of caries in Idaho children ages 0-5. Key partners in this effort include: the Idaho Head Start Association, Delta Dental of Idaho, MCNA, the Idaho Oral Health Program, ISU Dental Hygiene, the Idaho Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Idaho Society of Pediatric Dentists, and other oral health champions.