Although Medicaid coverage includes dental benefits for enrolled children, ensuring that children use that benefit is a challenge for states. To reduce barriers to oral health care for low-income children and to increase utilization, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the national Oral Health Initiative (OHI) in 2010. Through the OHI, CMS has asked states to increase the proportion of children who receive preventive dental services, as well as the proportion who receive dental sealants. CMS has also asked states to develop State Oral Health Action Plans (SOHAPs) to describe how they will achieve improvements.

This technical assistance brief describes a step-by-step strategic planning approach to help states design effective SOHAPs. It highlights approaches that represent the interests of a diverse set of key stakeholders, are feasible to implement, are measurable, and are likely to achieve the desired impact on children’s oral health.

This brief was developed by the Center for Health Care Strategies for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Oral Health Initiative Learning Collaborative.