Core Research Area

Oral health is a vital component of our physical, social, and emotional well-being. Evidence increasingly links dental disease with poor health outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as heart disease. Since the 1990s, Iowa's oral health policy researchers have investigated a broad range of dental topics, focusing on conducting research that informs oral health policy at local, state, and national levels.

Most of this research has historically focused on children who face barriers to receiving dental care—especially those within Medicaid and other public programs, children with special health care needs, and those in foster care. Our researchers also evaluate the impact of policy changes on access to dental care, including adult populations. For example, our researchers are currently examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the oral health safety net in Iowa. This includes a comprehensive evaluation of the Iowa Dental Wellness Plan—the new state dental insurance program for Medicaid expansion adults.

Oral Health Policy Publications

Variation in General Dentists Patterns of Sealant Use in Children with Elevated Caries Risk

S.C. McKernan, E.T. Momany, J.M.C. Sukalski, M.P. Jones, P.C. Damiano and R.A. Kuthy, JDR Clinical and Translational Research, 2023

Access to dental insurance and oral health inequities in the United States

Luisa N Borrell, Julie C Reynolds, Eleanor Fleming and Parth D Shah, Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 2023

The Patient-Centered Dental Home: A Framework for Quality Measurement, Improvement, and Integration

J.B. Herndon, J.C. Reynolds and P.C Damiano, JDR Clinical and Translational Research, 2023

Oral Health Policy Reports

Evaluation of the Waiver of Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Coverage in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan

Kandyce Larson, Brooke McInroy, Tessa Heeren, Elizabeth T Momany and Peter C Damiano, 2023

Patient-Centered Dental Home Project: Dental Quality Measurement Use Among Stakeholders

Julie C Reynolds, Jill Boylston Herndon and Peter C Damiano, 2021

Oral Health Policy Research News

Julie Reynolds

NIH awards dental faculty a grant to investigate the impact of adult Medicaid coverage on children

Thursday, September 21, 2023
Julie Reynolds, assistant professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study changes in Medicaid adult dental coverage and impact that these changes have on children's access to care.
Julie Reynolds and Jennifer Hartshorn with Pamela Nwachukwu

New Frontiers in Teledentistry

Thursday, April 20, 2023
A team of University of Iowa oral health researchers and dental providers at the Community Health Centers of Southeastern Iowa teamed up to deliver and assess the effectiveness of teledentistry in a nursing home setting.
Patient-Centered Dental Home (PCDH) Quality Indicators Clearinghouse on a Computer

Patient-Centered Dental Home, Dental Quality Indicators Clearinghouse Release

Thursday, December 9, 2021
The University of Iowa Public Policy Center's Patient-Centered Dental Home project is designed to improve the organization and delivery of dental care in a variety of care settings and in an integrated manner with other health care services. As part of this project, the PPC developed an interactive, online PCDH Clearinghouse of approximately 500 oral health quality measures and standards, which is now available.
Julie Reynolds

Reynolds Receives Grant for Maternal and Child Healthcare Study

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
The US Department of Health and Human Services awarded Dr. Julie Reynolds, assistant professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, almost $100K for her project, "Dental Coverage for Pregnant Women and Parents in Medicaid: Impact on Children's Access to Dental Care." The project investigates how Medicaid coverage for parents, which some states provide and some states do not, affects how much children and parents use dental services. Dr. Pete Damiano and Dr. Jin Xian are co-investigators for the project.