Thurston Oral Health Network (TOHN)

CHOICE Regional Health Network is working with Arcora Foundation to create a structured and comprehensive approach to reducing oral health disparities in Thurston County. Through a health equity lens, the Thurston Oral Health Network (TOHN) approach is organized around anchor strategies working toward the common goal of improving oral health. We aim to start with at least 5-7 anchor strategies.

Over three years, the anchor strategies will focus on:
1. Care coordination to assist vulnerable and at-risk children and adults in accessing dental care
2. Improving opioid prescription practices
3. Integrating oral health services for young children into medical well-child checks
4. Increasing access to dental services for people enrolled in Medicaid and seniors
5. School sealant programs in schools
6. Co-located and integrated primary care, behavioral health, and dental care
7. Community oral health education

The TOHN is also working with a program evaluator and the Oral Health Clinical Advisory Committee to ensure the success of these strategies.


Anchor Strategies Overview


Connecting Adults and Children to Dental Care
CHOICE will increase utilization of dental services and patient satisfaction for Thurston County residents experiencing access barriers. CHOICE will utilize their long history of successful care coordination for children under age six through the Access to Child and Baby Dentistry program to support pregnant women and patients with diabetes.

Prevent Opioid Misuse and Abuse
The goal of this strategy is to reduce opioid prescriptions written by Thurston County dentists. It includes a comprehensive, lecture-based course for dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, and other front office staff. Following the course, offices will self-select to receive more intensive and individualized trainings, technical support, and follow up to improve opioid safety practices and align with current Washington State clinical guidelines.

A link to the online CDE training will be available in 2021.

Increase Access to Dental Care for Seniors
Olympia Union Gospel Mission (OUGM) will improve the oral and overall health of lower income, uninsured seniors with diabetes. Providing preventive and restorative services, volunteer dentists and a newly hired dental hygienist will increase patients’ knowledge of the relationship between good oral health practices and a reduction in the impact of their chronic medical disease on overall health.

Learn more about the OUGM Dental Clinic (https://www.ougm.org/)

Implement School Sealant Programs and Educate the Community about Oral Health
Thurston County Public Health Department is the lead organization for two strategies: School Sealants and Community Education. School sealant programs provide high quality dental sealants, and potentially fluoride varnish applications, along with referrals to needed dental care to families of school-age children through Thurston County public and private schools. Sealants are a protective coating that covers the chewing surface of molars to protect teeth from bacteria and decay. The goal of the Community Education strategy is to promote the importance of oral health throughout a broad spectrum of organizations in Thurston County so that a higher proportion of county residents understand the connection between oral health and their overall health and adopt behaviors to prevent oral disease.

Working with the Medical Community
The LIN is developing additional projects around medical dental integration to provide oral health preventive services in medical settings and connecting patients to local dental providers for routine care. They are also developing projects to provide coordinated medical, dental, and behavioral health services in community-based settings.

To learn more about medical/dental integration, go to the Arcora website

Program Evaluation
Thurston Public Health, in partnership with Spokane Regional Health District, is the data/measurement and evaluation lead. The lead will develop and monitor a measurement model to ensure the goals and strategies are directed at the primary drivers of poor oral health.
• Establish a measurement framework to support evaluation and continuous improvement
• Strengthen linkages between outcomes and strategies within and across LIN strategies
• Support anchor strategy lead organizations with incorporating the measurement framework into their work

Find the Oral Health Data Profile for Thurston County report on the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department website

Oral Health Clinical Advisory Committee
Clinical/Subject Matter Experts will consist of representatives of the dental and medical communities and will offer clinical expertise, guidance, and feedback on LIN strategies from a clinical perspective.
• Provide clinical guidance and feedback to the leadership committee on TOHN strategies
• Liaise with respective professional organizations/associations to promote the work of the TOHN