Colorado Oral Health News – October 2023 – Fall Updates, Framework Engagement, and more!

A barn stands in a field in front of some tall trees with leaves that have turned golden in the fall.
A photo of Dr. Maryam Mahmood, Colorado State Dental Director

Letter from the Dental Director

Dear Friends,

We at the Oral Health Unit (OHU) hope that this message finds you well. I’m excited to have this opportunity to address our community partners and connect with a wider audience passionate about oral health. 

I wanted to start with a few updates from the OHU. OHU staff have been visiting several partner sites to see firsthand the wonderful work that is being done and to hear from people on the ground what challenges they are facing. We were lucky enough to visit STRIDE Community Health Center, Tepeyac Community Health Center, Project Worthmore Clinic, and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Their implementations of medical-dental integration are exemplary realizations of what can be achieved when all types of health professionals converge around the shared goal of the overall wellbeing of their patients. It was a privilege to see firsthand how they are evolving to meet the challenges and barriers faced by the communities they serve.

The Cavity Free at Three program has also been on the road. The program recently presented training for 80 first-year dental students at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Students were taught the basic principles of providing preventive oral health services for young children and people who are pregnant to decrease dental disease and reduce oral health disparities among high-risk populations. The OHU is excited to be able to offer this training to the next generation of dentists who will continue this vital work.

Health First Colorado has removed the limit to the amount of benefits for the Adult and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) state plans. This change does not affect the frequency or types of services covered. For more information, please visit our website.

Lastly, over the past few weeks, the OHU team has been deeply engaged in roundtable discussions with our valued partners and stakeholders within Colorado’s oral health network to discuss the recently released (read the Framework to Advance Oral Health Equity in Colorado here, opens in a new window). The purpose of these discussions was to hear feedback from our Framework and network partners about the released draft, to align current efforts to advance oral health equity, and to understand how these efforts can converge in meaningful ways around implementation of the strategies listed in the Framework. 

As a follow-up to this work and a key step in engaging with partners in a collective effort to advance oral health equity, we will be hosting community discussions centered around implementation. This outreach will be focused on community-based organizations that are working in the oral health space or who have it in scope to do so. If you have an interest in participating as a community-based organization or know of any partners who would be interested, please let us know by filling out our contact us form (opens in a new window). We will bring the learnings from these conversations to our network as we work together to advance oral health equity in Colorado.

Thank you all for your work in placing Colorado at the forefront of oral public health. Together, we envision a future where oral health isn’t just a concern for individuals but a shared commitment within our entire community.  


Dr. Maryam Mahmood's signature

Maryam Mahmood, DMD, MPH

National Updates

  • September is Dental Infection Control Awareness Month – Find New Resources: 

    Dental Infection Control Awareness Month (DICAM) is an annual campaign hosted by the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (read about OSAP. Link Opens in a new window.). DICAM brings awareness to infection prevention and control in dental settings. See stories and resources related to infection control:
  • Infection control saves lives, and frontline healthcare workers play a critical role. Read about Project Firstline (opens in a new window), which provides innovative and accessible infection control education for all frontline healthcare workers so that they can protect their patients, their coworkers, and themselves from infectious disease threats in health care settings. Project Firstline offers educational resources in a variety of formats to meet the diverse learning needs and preferences of the healthcare workforce. Resources are designed to empower and enable healthcare workers to think critically about infection control, using adult learning principles, educational best practices, CDC recommendations, and the science that informs them. Colorado’s Project Firstline team is creating educational materials specific to the dental healthcare setting! Stay tuned for more information and reach out to our team directly with questions or to express interest in the learning modules at
  • Read about the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Healthcare-Associated Infections/Antimicrobial Resistance Program (HAI/AR) (link opens in a new window) and Project Firstline teams provide free resources and support for infection prevention and control efforts in Colorado. The mission of the HAI/AR Program is to prevent health care-associated infections in all healthcare settings in Colorado through surveillance, containment and response, infection prevention, education, and antimicrobial stewardship. Starting winter 2023, the HAI/AR Program infection preventionist will contact dental facilities to offer on-site assessment and consultation. These proactive assessments performed are not regulatory or punitive in nature. Should you have any infection prevention questions or concerns or you would like further infection prevention support, email
  • The CDC provides training materials and resources to increase knowledge, skills, and ability of dental health care personnel to adhere to CDC guidelines and recommendations around infection control. Throughout the month of September, the CDC shared information on various infection prevention and control topics to help educate patients and provide resources for oral health professionals. Topics included hand hygiene, dental unit waterlines, instrument sterilization, personal protective equipment, and vaccinations. Learn more about the available resources by visiting the CDC website (link opens in a new window).
  • New Guideline on Management of Acute Dental Pain in Children

    A new set of guidelines for the management of acute dental pain in children has been recently developed and released by the American Dental Association (ADA) Science and Research Institute, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, and the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. According to these guidelines, when treating children under the age of 12 with acute dental pain, the first choice should be either acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (like Advil). You can read more about the development of these guidelines and quotes from the lead author in this ADA News article explaining the new guidelines. You can find the complete set of practice guidelines by visiting the recently released article in the Journal of the ADA (link opens in a new window). 
  • The Non-Invasive Caries Therapy Guide from CareQuest

    In April, CareQuest released “The Non-Invasive Caries Therapy Guide.” The manual provides illustrations and information on non-invasive diagnostics, preventives, and therapeutics for dental caries. This guide can be used by non-dentists. Download it for free on the CareQuest website (link opens in a new window).

News & Hot Topics

  • New Training Requirement for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-Registered Clinicians

    As of June 27, 2023, DEA-registered dental clinicians must complete a one-time, eight-hour training on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. This training requirement must be fulfilled by the date of the clinician’s next scheduled DEA registration submission. Please review this letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (link opens in a new window) for further information about the guidelines and agencies accredited to provide the required training.
  • Dental Collimator Update

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division X-Ray Certification Unit is proposing to remove (strike) provision that requires rectangular collimators when performing certain dental imaging procedures. This provision was added during the 2019 rulemaking and has an effective date of January 1, 2025 (under current rule). Due to collimator device availability and implementation concerns needed to meet FDA requirements when using such devices, implementation is not feasible at this time. A guidance document pertaining to the new rule is available here.

    Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted via email to on or before October 14, 2023.

    If you have additional questions, you reach Kathy Liberman at 303-692-3446.

Partner Links

  • Pickens Technical College – Oral Health Professional Mentorship Program

    In partnership with the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, Pickens Technical College is offering a free mentorship program and is looking for mentors and mentees. The mentorship program provides tailored guidance from industry experts, networking opportunities with dental professionals, career development and skill enhancement, and access to valuable resources and research materials.

    If you or someone you know is interested in participating, please email Alyssa Collado at
  • Upcoming Grant Opportunity: CDC RFA – A Cultural Approach to Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC)

    The CDC has announced a new funding opportunity focused on improving the health and well-being of Native American communities. This initiative is titled “A Cultural Approach to Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country” (GHWIC) and is open to projects that aim to achieve three main goals:
  1. Connecting Communities: Projects should incorporate cultural practices chosen by the community itself, with a strong focus on families. These practices should help strengthen bonds within the community, families, and culture while promoting overall wellness.
  2. Healthcare Linkages: Efforts should be made to implement policies, systems, and environmental change (PSE) to create clinical-community linkages (CCLs). This will involve screening and assessment for chronic diseases and their risk factors, such as tobacco use, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and oral health. Referrals should also be made to clinical care, community organizations, or social services for evidence-based programs that help prevent and manage chronic diseases, including self-management and monitoring.
  3. Promoting Wellness: Lastly, the projects should focus on creating programs and enacting PSE changes that not only promote wellness but also prevent diseases. These initiatives should address factors beyond medical care, such as the physical environment, food and nutrition, tobacco policies, and social connections in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner.

    This funding opportunity will likely open in late December, 2023, with applications being due in late February, 2024. Visit the CDC grant opportunity page (link opens in a new window) for more information about this and other upcoming grant opportunities. 
A banner with an infant's face reads prenatal, infant, and toddler

Prenatal, Infant, & Toddler

  • Resource: Fluoride Varnish for Adults: Q & A 

    The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC) recently created a new handout addressing common questions regarding fluoride varnish for adults. This resource can be used by medical or dental professionals to help facilitate discussions around the safety, instructions for use, and benefits of fluoride varnish in adults. You can find the Fluoride Varnish for Adults: Q & A handout and provide feedback (link opens in a new window) on the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center website. 
  • Resource: A Healthy Mouth for Every Body Campaign Toolkit 

    The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) released their “A Healthy Mouth for Every Body Campaign Toolkit” this year as a health literacy resource for individuals of all ages. This campaign offers tools on how oral health is connected to overall health, the basics of good oral health, and how oral health risks and priorities can change as we age. These free materials were developed to provide guidance about how to care for you and your family’s oral health across the lifespan; from infancy to old age. You can find the toolkit the HRSA website (link opesn in a new window). 
  • Cavity Free at Three Team Trains CU Dental Students 

    The OHU would like to thank the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine for allowing the Cavity Free at Three team to come and train the first-year dental students again this year. Professor Deidre Callanan helped arrange and facilitate Cavity Free at Three training for 80 first-year dental students who received Cavity Free at Three certification this August. We were very excited to be able to provide the training in person to students for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to thank one of our Master Trainers, Laura Jacob, for leading an engaging and enjoyable training with the students. See some photos below!
Four photos show the Cavity Free at Three training at the school of Dental Medicine from August 2024. Pictures include students and presenters.
A banner says school age and shows a child smiling


  • A Healthy Start to the School Year: Spotlight on Denver Health

    It’s back to school time! This is an exciting season for Colorado families, and a time to recognize the role oral health for school-aged children plays in the community. School-based programs play a critical role in the oral health of Colorado children and often go beyond a school-based screening. Denver Health is one example of how a comprehensive and integrated program can serve the needs of families. Families are able to receive care in the clinic, which serves as a point-of-care for more comprehensive services. Read more about Denver Health’s program and how  their approach ultimately served to improve the health and wellbeing of an entire family (link opens in a new window).