Skip to main content
Health Equity Hero Dr. Gail Tessier Brown

Gail Tessier Brown, JD, MSW

Director, NH Oral Health Coalition

Donation Recipient: New Hampshire Oral Health Coalition

Gail Brown has led efforts to establish adult Medicaid dental benefits in New Hampshire for more than two decades. Today, eligible adults in the state have access to the oral health care they need thanks to her efforts.

Director of the New Hampshire Oral Health Coalition since 2010, Gail is a vital, vocal member of New Hampshire’s dental community, engaging with stakeholders, educating providers, consumers and others about the link between oral health and overall wellness. Her grassroots work has created strong relationships with clinicians, the legislature, education and advocacy groups, and the insurance industry.

Just about everyone in New Hampshire dentistry knows Gail as an advocate. Her motivation is a keen awareness that education and health systems do not teach clinicians about the connection between overall and oral health. Her goal has always been to help people understand and navigate the system so they can access the best care – helping people to help themselves.

Seldom in your life do you get the opportunity to work on a project and see an outcome that impacts tens of thousands of people. One of my first lessons was that you have to buck up and accept you will not get credit for the seeds you plant. If it gets done, then you did your job and that’s good.


Gail frequently shares her story to encourage others to join her in creating access to care for people in-need within New Hampshire and across the country. In her own words, the key to success in getting legislation passed is persistence, plus the right message, repetition, and finding champions.

With Medicaid dental benefits now in effect, Gail is leading the NH Oral Health Coalition to maintain momentum and fill gaps and in oral health access. This includes supporting others’ advocacy, educating different community stakeholders, and helping to spread the word about mobile dental clinics. Whenever NH Oral Health Coalition identifies a need, they help to fulfill it.

Medicaid Adult Dental Facts:

  • The effort to create and pass New Hampshire legislation began more than 20 years ago.
  • The state’s parliamentary body is the fourth-largest in the world. It comprises 400 representatives and 24 senators that serve two-year terms on the same schedule, plus the governor and an executive council.
  • Roughly 60% of the legislature is new every two years.
  • Pre-pandemic, the bill draft was set to create access for 88,000 adults.
  • By the time the bill passed, 120,000 people qualified for benefits.
  • The most successful message NH Oral Health Coalition discovered: responsible management of scarce resources.
  • It took 18 months for this message to take hold.

Lessons Learned

  • The phrase “oral health” does not fully communicate the depth of dental disease.
  • Consumers do not understand gum disease and dental decay. When they don’t understand the concepts, they won’t understand the impact on themselves.
  • Change is impossible when providers don’t understand what consumers don’t understand.
  • Finding champions that connected legislators with dentists made a vast difference.
  • Direct consumer request is the strongest motivator for providers to join the network.
  • Provides health literacy awareness so can they speak to patients in a language they understand.

Health Equity Heroes

Meet the 2023 Health Equity Heroes

Preventistry Pulse


The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.