A state initiative to improve oral health for New Jersey youngsters and others, especially in poorer areas, is close to becoming reality. If signed by Gov. Christie, a measure to create the New Jersey Center for Oral Health here in North Jersey becomes law.
“Research suggests that oral health mirrors our overall health,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of Bergen County, one of the bill‘s co-sponsors.
“Poor oral health can lead to so many other health problems,” Vainieri Huttle said, “so it’s important that we as a state join in a collaborative effort to combat this problem.”
“Health care costs are the driving force behind so many of our economic problems, and if we can tackle one aspect of it with this effort, we’ll be better off as a state,” added another co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Upendra Chivukula.
The measure establishes the new center at at the New Jersey Dental School of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
Under the bill, the center would actively lobby local and state agencies to establish “effective measures to improve the oral health of this state and eliminate disparities among the various racial and ethnic populations” to getting “high-quality” oral health care.
Under the bill, the new center would be funded through federal grants, private foundations or other sources. It would be responsible for enlisting community-based agencies and organizations, health care facilities, provider organizations, and dental insurance companies in a coordinated effort to improve to oral health in New Jersey.
If the measure becomes law, the center each year will be required to report to the governor and the Legislature on its work and achievements.
Overall, the center would be the “go-to“ hub for oral health in the state, specifically responsible for:
· Developing and encouraging awareness campaigns, through public and private partnerships;
· Providing information and resources for anyone looking to improve their oral health;
· Producing materials for local school districts, in concert with the state commissioners of Education, Health and Senior Services, and Human Services;
· Helping Early Head Start and Head Start programs and local school districts develop elementary and secondary school programs that emphasize “good nutrition, sound oral hygiene, healthy lifestyles, and the prevention of oral disease” — again, in collaboration with the commissioners of Education and Health and Senior Services, other state agencies and private organizations;
· Recommending outreach efforts that encourage all communities to participate in publicly-funded oral health programs;
· Evaluating oral health programs in other states to see which elements can be applied here.
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