Creating an Information Campaign with Teeth in it

Development of a communications campaign for oral health

From 2001 to 2003, staff from Oral Health America, America's Fund for Dental Health developed the "Campaign for Oral Health Parity." The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness of oral health issues among policy-makers, opinion leaders and the public, and to create the first state-by-state oral health report card.

The campaign had been initiated by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1999.

Key Results

  • Campaign staff produced two state-by state oral health report cards: Filling the Gaps: Oral Health in America (2002) and Keep America Smiling: Oral Health in America (2003).
  • In 2002, stories by the Associated Press and USA Today on the report card and subsequent communications efforts garnered approximately 78 million audience impressions, according to the project director.
  • Staff produced a special report card on oral health and the elderly, entitled A State of Decay: The Oral Health of Older Americans.

Key Findings

  • The nation's overall oral health grade in 2003 was a C for the second year in a row, reflecting stalled progress in advancing oral health care for all Americans. Subcategories received the following grades:
    • The average state grade for prevention programs, such as fluoridation of public water supplies and school-based sealant programs: C.
    • The average grade in regard to access to dentists and availability of Medicaid providers: C-.
    • The average grade in regard to public health infrastructure: C+.
    • Oral health status for American adults: C.
    • The average grade in regard to oral health state policies: C.
  • In the report card on oral health and the elderly, staff rated the national overall oral health grade for older Americans as a D. Grades for subcategories included:
    • Private dental insurance for older Americans: D.
    • Level of adult Medicaid dental coverage: D+.
    • National average for adult Medicaid dental service reimbursement rates: F.