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Advancing Oral Health Equity in California 

Building Momentum for Change 

CPEHN is excited to announce our role as a backbone facilitator organization for the California Oral Health Network. Achieving optimal oral health is necessary to improve one’s overall health and well-being. The vision for the Network is to build stronger momentum for this change. 

The Network seeks to include engaged, diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors and populations committed to advancing oral health equity for all. Together, we are working to improve overall health for Californians addressing oral health issues, especially for those who are historically underserved. The Network will maximize our collective efforts to advance systemic social change toward oral health equity.  

Why Now? 

Improving oral health is necessary to improve quality of life and achieve better health outcomes. Poor oral health has dire consequences that impact opportunities in education and employment attainment and security, and furthers health disparities. The persistence of poor oral health and oral health disparities perpetuate negative health outcomes and preventable inequities among California’s residents. Conversely, by improving oral health equity and outcomes, we will see improvements in overall health and well-being. 

California has just secured a number of important policy wins including the passage of Proposition 56 (a ballot initiative to raise taxes on tobacco products) to expand funding for oral health services and planning efforts. In addition, California recently approved the restoration of full dental benefits for adults enrolled in the Medi-Cal program. California also has a state Dental Director, Dr. Jay Kumar, who is finalizing a state Oral Health Plan. With this infusion of resources and support for oral health, it is time to align and connect efforts statewide to ensure that oral health is better integrated into overall health. 


Using a social justice lens, the Network will maximize our collective impact to advance systemic social change for oral health equity. CPEHN is working with our health equity and oral health allies to help identify the structure, information and opportunities to:   

  • strengthen existing relationships and create new connections; 

  • provide timely information and share best practices;   

  • align state and local oral health efforts;  

  • provide opportunities for engagement in advocacy; and  

  • advance equitable oral health policies to best meet community needs.   

Oral Health Network Goals 

CPEHN has outlined the following initial goals for the Network to help address long unmet health needs for traditionally underserved communities. Over the coming year, we will modify and improve upon these initial goals with input: 

  1. Maximize connectivity and engagement through a strong, focused, and well-resourced Network structure. We want to ensure that partners and allies are connected and aligned to maximize our collective impact for improved oral health. We seek to leverage what already exists and improve connections with advocates, consumers and partners in advancing oral health equity.   

  2. Use better data, knowledge and practices to develop an informed, statewide, and community-driven policy. As we become better connected and aligned, we must harness opportunities to advance shared policies and practices. We seek to help lift up those shared ideas, policies, practices, and needs to identify a policy agenda that truly addresses inequities in oral health. 

  3. Shift public perception, knowledge, and engagement on oral health advocacy. At every level of this work our partners are calling for more information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to help elevate the urgency and importance of oral health. To truly advance a policy agenda and shift the imperative to improve oral health, we need more voices throughout California and for everyone to understand why disparities and inequities exist.  

  4. Provide opportunities for consumer and community engagement to advance oral health. The missing voice from public policy on oral health is community. We must align and connect our community partners to bring their energy, expertise, and engagement into the movement.  

Get Connected 

To sign up for the Oral Health Network, please email CAOralHealthNetwork@cpehn.orgBy signing up for the Oral Health Network, you will also receive our Quick BitesOral Health Updates. If you have any upcoming activities or meetings that you would like us to include in the Quick Bites, please send your inquiries by the 5th of every month.

If you have additional questions, please contact Kiran Savage-Sangwan, CPEHN Executive Director, at

We look forward to partnering with you to advance oral health equity!