The Iowa Department of Public Health will use a dental-medical integration approach, developing and implementing three innovative programs to address dental workforce and oral health needs of dental health professional shortage areas in Iowa, including: 1) Closing the Divide Educational Sessions: Using telecommunications to sponsor virtual continuing education courses for medical and dental providers to improve awareness and bridge gaps between medical and dental systems for the overall health of Iowans; 2) Telehealth Dental Referral Project: Using teledentistry to create a screening and referral system between hospital Emergency Departments and local public health dental hygienists working in Iowa’s I-Smile Silver pilot project; and 3) Oral Disease Preventionist Project: Using public health dental hygienists working in Iowa’s I-Smile Silver and I-Smile programs to provide preventive services and dental referral assistance during primary care medical visits. Iowa’s innovative projects will educate and build awareness about how medical and dental systems are related and can be better integrated, demonstrate ways to usepublic health dental hygienists to integrate the systems, and initiate plans for program and policy development based on successful system integration outcomes. The strategies will prevent/reduce dental disease and increase access to dental care, lower health care costs, and create interprofessional teams focused on total health. Objective 1-1: By December 2025, plan and conduct three virtual Closing the Divide Educational Sessions for medical and dental providers to improve awareness and bridge gaps between medical and dental systems for the overall health of Iowans. IDPH staff will plan, seek presenters, schedule and hold three courses, and award continuing education. Objective 1-2: By August 2026, implement the Telehealth Dental Referral Project, a teledentistry screening and referral system between hospital Emergency Depart
ments and local public health, for Iowans living within at least seven dental HPSAs. IDPH will contract with three county health departments to implement this as part of the I-Smile Silver program. Program coordinators will partner with hospital Emergency Department staff to take intraoral photos and transmit them to the coordinators (public health dental hygienist) to complete a screening. Based on the screening, referrals for dental care will be made. Objective 1-3: By August 2026, implement the Oral Disease Preventionist Project, using public health dental hygienists to provide preventive oral health services as part of primary care medical visits to increase oral health services for Iowans living in at least seven dental HPSAs. IDPH will contract with I-Smile Silver and I-Smile programs to implement this. I-Smile Silver will use public health dental hygienists as part of medical office teams to provide screenings, fluoride applications, and education for patients managing chronic disease. I-Smile will use public health hygienists for the same services as part of medical well-child teams. Referrals to dentists will be made to help patients access dental are. Objective 2-1: By August 2026, evaluate the Closing the Divide Educational Sessions, Telehealth Dental Referral Project, and Oral Disease Preventionist Project to determine project impact, sustainability, and project replication across Iowa and to inform policymakers. Objective 3-1: By August 2026, Iowa Department of Public Health staff will determine sustainability needs and approaches for the Closing the Divide Educational Sessions, Telehealth Dental Referral Project, and Oral Disease Preventionist Project using the evaluation plan and project results. IDPH will evaluate the results, impacts, and outcomes of the projects and seek to sustain them using the evaluation and lessons learned to inform decision makers.