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IHS Division of Oral Health Initiatives

IHS Heroin, Opioids, and Pain Efforts (HOPE) Initiative

The IHS National Committee on Heroin Opioids and Pain Efforts (HOPE Committee) works with tribal stakeholders to promote appropriate and effective pain management, reduce overdose deaths from heroin and prescription opioid misuse, and improve access to culturally appropriate treatment. The IHS Division of Oral Health partners with the HOPE Committee to provide guidelines on acute dental pain management, identify best practices for opioid stewardship, and develop trainings to support these best practices.

IHS Early Childhood Caries Collaborative

The Indian Health Service (IHS) Early Childhood Caries (ECC) Collaborative was a multi-faceted program designed to enhance knowledge about early childhood caries prevention and early intervention among not only dental providers, but also all healthcare providers and the community. Although the initiative ended in 2017, the emphasis on early childhood caries prevention and early intervention remains a top priority for IHS, Tribal, and Urban (I/T/U) dental programs. The IHS Division of Oral Health (DOH) continues to promote ECC best practices. Visit the IHS ECC webpage to learn more about this monumental initiative.

IHS Periodontal Initiative  

The goal of the IHS Periodontal Disease Initiative is to increase focus on the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal diseases in IHS, Tribal, and Urban dental programs. The overlying theme for this initiative is: "Overall Health begins with Periodontal Health"

IHS Oral Health Literacy Initiative  

The goal of the IHS Oral Health Literacy Initiative is to increase knowledge and awareness of oral health literacy best practices in IHS, Tribal, and Urban (I/T/U) dental programs. The theme for this initiative is SMILE — Sharing oral health Messages to Improve Literacy for Everyone.

IHS National Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS)

In 2020, the IHS Division of Oral Health teamed up with the American Dental Association (ADA) to hold the first IHS national Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS). The annual event takes place as part of National Children's Dental Health Month in February.

IHS Oral Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Funding Initiative

Since 2000, IHS DOH has funded a limited number of I/T/U dental programs to purse an oral health promotion/disease prevention project (e.g. starting a school-based sealant program) with the goal of improving the oral health of American Indian/Alaska Natives. This initiative - pending available funding - helps IHS DOH to identify promising practices that can be promoted to other I/T/U dental programs.

Alternative Workforce Initiative

This initiative was designed to elevate the issue of improving dental workforce efficiency within the Indian Health Service (IHS), especially at IHS, Tribal, and Urban (ITU) dental programs throughout the country. The IHS Dental Workforce Initiative aimed to educate ITU providers, tribal communities, and outside organizations about alternative workforce models and promote such models to help address oral disease disparities in the American Indian and Alaska Native population. The initiative highlighted the Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) Program that was created by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2004 as well as the expanded function dental assistant (EFDA) program that the IHS spearheaded in 1961, allowing specially trained dental assistants to restore teeth under the direct supervision of a dentist.

Compliance with Minimata Convention

The Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health concurs or is already in compliance with 6 of the 9 measures of the Minamata Convention on Mercury Part II: Products subject to Article 4, paragraph 3 regarding dental amalgam.