Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect their health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SDOH factors include:
- Educational level
- Language and literacy skills
- And access to
- health care
- safe housing
- nutritious foods
- physical activity opportunities
Medicaid and CHIP members often face SDOH challenges, says the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the American Dental Association notes a greater risk of developing caries for people and communities without access to factors such as healthy food, stable housing, transportation, education, employment, clean air and clean water.
For example, food insecurity increases the likelihood of developing oral disease. Furthermore, food insecurity makes it more difficult to manage a chronic illness such as diabetes. And when diabetes goes untreated, it can lead to gum disease. Add in factors such as transportation and mobility issues that impede visiting a dentist or other clinician, and you see how SDOH easily cascade into negative health effects.
How DentaQuest Addresses SDOH
We support large-scale changes in policy and infrastructure to improve SDOH. It is integral to the work DentaQuest is doing to improve the oral health of all.
Preventistry is our systems-based approach to improving the oral health of all by encouraging “upstream interventions.” For example, DentaQuest dentists facilitate visits with expanded office hours that don’t interfere with work or school schedules while also helping to divert members from hospital emergency departments.
DentaQuest also works to mitigate social determinants at the grassroots level. Initiatives to help our members and communities include:
- Health Equity Heroes, which supports individuals and organizations who champion change that enables equitable access to oral care and improving overall health.
- America’s Tooth Fairy partnership along with Sun Life, our parent organization, to raise awareness about oral health disparities in marginalized communities.
- Our annual Mission Month program to assemble and distribute tens of thousands of oral health kits to dozens of nonprofits across 17 states.
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.