Maryland Oral Health Learning Alliance

T he Maryland Oral Health Learning Alliance (MOHLA) is an initiative designed to build a cadre of partners from across Maryland that share a vision of and commitment to improving oral health throughout the state. MOHLA includes traditional and non-traditional stakeholders from the state’s four regions (i.e., central, southern, and western Maryland and the Eastern Shore). In addition, special emphasis is placed on ensuring representation from non-traditional partners in rural and urban communities where many of the state’s disadvantaged and underserved populations reside.

The Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) established the Maryland Oral Health Learning Alliance (MOHLA) by way of the 2014 Oral Health DentaQuest Foundation grant. Members of the alliance are non-traditional stakeholders who represent entities (e.g., Maryland Public Libraries and the Maryland chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics) that have not traditionally engaged with the oral health community, as well as stakeholders that have been traditional partners. The combined efforts of all partners to better understand and value the tangible and intangible factors that impede and promote the achievement of optimal oral health among disparate groups in Maryland will result in creative solutions that work to improve oral health among all state residents.

MOHLA’s Vision of Impact is to improve oral health for underserved pregnant women and mothers/caregivers and their children under six years of age. The MOHLA partners developed a work plan that focused on decreasing oral health disparities among Maryland children by:

  • Enhancing oral health literacy among all relevant community-based groups and raising awareness among dental and medical providers.
  • Strengthening medical and dental professionals’ use of recommended communication techniques.
  • Establishing strong and sustainable partnerships between medical and dental professionals.
  • Oral Health Literacy - Develop and disseminate evidenced-based, culturally sensitive materials and campaigns to increase the oral health literacy of diverse populations. In a strategic alliance with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Office of Oral Health (OOH), MDAC led the implementation of the Maryland Oral Health Literacy Campaign, Healthy Teeth Healthy Kids, a statewide media campaign intended to raise awareness of oral health literacy among underserved populations of pregnant women and women/caregivers with children under age 6. Since August 2013, MOHLA has helped distribute 15,305 English brochures, 4,735 Spanish brochures, 20 English posters, and 2 Spanish posters. Visit Healthy Teeth Healthy Kids for more information
  • Medical-Dental Collaboration - Expand the number and types of medical and dental professionals providing oral health assessments, anticipatory guidance, preventive oral health services and treatment and referral, where appropriate, and implement the Smiles for Life curriculum. MOHLA is a function of MDAC, an incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to improve the oral health of all Marylanders through increased prevention, education, advocacy, and access to oral health care. It is the state’s leading non-governmental oral health policy and advocacy organization. MDAC works with a wide variety of stakeholders to develop and implement initiatives to enhance oral health for all Marylanders. MDAC led the development of, fosters, and monitors progress of the five-year Maryland Oral Health Plan (MOHP). MDAC has a well-established history of partnership development.
  • Maryland Oral Health Literacy Campaign Healthy Teeth Healthy Kids (HTHK) http://healthyteethhealthykids.org/ and http://healthyteethhealthykids.org/wp-content/themes/medica/downloads/brochure.pdf
  • Translated and brochure into Spanish – Dientes Sanos, Ninos Sanos http://healthyteethhealthykids.org/wp-content/themes/medica/downloads/sbrochure.pdf
  • Oral health literacy Develop and disseminate evidenced-based, culturally sensitive materials and campaigns to increase the oral health literacy of diverse populations.
  • Medical-dental collaboration- Expand the number and types of medical and dental professionals providing oral health assessments, anticipatory guidance, preventive oral health services and treatment and referral, where appropriate, and implement the Smiles for Life curriculum.
  • Distributed 52,000 HTHK brochures and counting through our MOHLA partners: Judy Centers, After School Care Programming, Elementary Schools, Health Departments, Pediatricians, Case Workers, Social Services Providers, WIC, OB/GYNs, Libraries, Emergency Departments.
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore dental hygiene students provided training and education to children and teachers in Judy Centers.
  • Expanded outreach efforts to Hispanic children and their parents at the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center on the Eastern Shore (provided English/Spanish HTHK materials).
  • Distributed HTHK materials to rural populations through Western Maryland Area Health Education Center (AHEC).
  • Donated 400 toothbrushes collected by the Baltimore Chapter of Rotary International to The Moravia Judy Center in Baltimore, MD.

Oral health literacy training and educational programs provided for MOHLA partners:

  • 22 Hispanic case workers at Healthy Start, Inc.
  • WIC Nutritionists, MD State Directors, and case workers in Harford and Cecil Counties
  • Health Care Access Maryland training for over 30 community outreach workers
  • Disseminated Head Start Teacher’s Guide to all 180 public libraries in Maryland, 7 health sciences libraries, and Department of Education Family Networks (i.e. parent education centers in the libraries)
  • Organized two webinars to train librarians on how to utilize the Head Start Teacher’s Guide and materials.

“Promoting Optimal Child Wellness: An Interprofessional Approach” (December 2012)

The Interprofessional Optimal Child Wellness program was a partnership between University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and MOHLA that included a nationally recognized panel of experts and leaders. Attendees included faculty members from the various UMB schools (Social Work, School of Dentistry, Pharmacy School, and Law). Efforts made on behalf of the program, led to a preliminary planning process to develop an inter-professional institute which incorporates oral health at UMB.