Prof. Judith Haber appointed to work group meeting to inform Surgeon General’s report on oral health

October 16, 2018

Judith Haber, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, the Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing at NYU Meyers, has been appointed to a workgroup meeting convened to identify and discuss significant oral health issues which will inform the Surgeon General's 20-year update report on oral health.

This summer, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Oral Health Coordinating Committee announced the commission of a Surgeon General’s report focusing on issues affecting oral health.

The report will document progress in oral health in the past two decades since the 2000 Surgeon General’s report on oral health—Oral Health in America—as well as identify gaps in knowledge and articulate a vision for the future.

“Oral Health in America was a landmark report because it was the first time not only that oral health was being focused on as a population health issue, but it was also the first time that the links between oral health and overall health were acknowledged. In fact, it coined the phrase that the mouth is the window to the health of the body,” said Haber, who is the executive director of the Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) program at NYU Meyers.

Haber has spent the past decade integrating oral health into overall health, particularly through interprofessional education. Under her leadership, OHNEP has led efforts nationwide to incorporate oral health into curricula for nursing students and other health professionals, provide faculty development on oral health, and establish best practices for oral health in acute and primary care settings. In addition, Haber was part of the expert panel that developed interprofessional oral health competencies for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) called the Integration of Oral Health and Primary Care Practice, published in 2014.

The working group for the updated report, scheduled to be released in 2020, will collaborate with staff from sponsoring agencies to map the current landscape of key issues in oral health, highlighting changes in oral health over time. A potential area of focus is the integration of oral health into primary health care settings. Haber noted that significant progress has been made in the past 20 years in terms of building interprofessional oral workforce capacity in primary care, nursing, and specialties including pediatrics and women’s health.

In addition to mapping key issues and underscoring the importance of oral health as a public health issue, the report is intended to outline a vision for future directions and call upon all Americans to take action.