Medical Dental Integration in Wisconsin: Integrating dental hygienists into pediatric well child visits and prenatal care

J Dent Hyg. 2023 Jun;97(3):13-20.

Abstract

Disparities exist in access to early oral health care, disproportionately impacting minority ethnic groups and populations with low socio-economic status. Medical dental integration provides an opportunity to create a new dental access point for early prevention and intervention as well as care coordination. The Wisconsin Medical Dental Integration (WI-MDI) model expanded early access to preventive oral health services by integrating dental hygienists (DHs) into pediatric primary care and prenatal care teams to address oral health inequities with the goal of reducing dental disease. This case study will describe how DHs were incorporated into the medical care teams in Wisconsin and how legislation expanding scope of practice made this possible. Since 2019, five federally qualified health systems, one non-profit clinic, and two large health systems have enrolled in the WI-MDI project. Thirteen DHs have worked across nine clinics in the WI-MDI project and over 15,000 patient visits to a medical provider included oral health services provided by DHs from 2019 to 2023. Dental hygienists working in alternative practice models such as those demonstrated in the innovative WI-MDI approach are positioned to reduce oral health disparities through the provision of early and frequent dental prevention, intervention, and care coordination.

Keywords: access to care; dental hygienists; health disparities; medical dental integration; oral disease prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dental Care
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Wisconsin