Oral Health


A healthy mouth is essential to overall health—but this understanding isn’t reflected in either public thinking or public policy. When asked to think about oral health, people talk about brushing and flossing, about smiles and sugary snacks. The public doesn’t share experts’ understanding that oral health is influenced by much more than self-care and doesn’t appreciate that the consequences of oral disease or injury go far beyond the affected individuals. In partnership with Oral Health 2020, and with support from the DentaQuest Foundation, FrameWorks has developed evidence-based strategies and tools for explaining why oral health matters to society, what promotes it, what undermines it, and the kinds of public responses that are necessary to improve outcomes.

Research and Recommendations

Reframing Oral Health: A Communications Toolkit for Advancing Oral Health Reform (2018) 
This collection of research and resources provides advocates in the oral health sector with tools to build public and political support for programs and policies that can promote oral health across society.

Unlocking the Door to New Thinking: Frames for Advancing Oral Health Reform (2017)
A healthy mouth is essential to overall health—but this understanding isn’t reflected in either public thinking or public policy. This MessageMemo, produced in partnership with Oral Health 2020 and sponsored by the DentaQuest Foundation, walks oral health advocates through research-based strategies for making a more powerful case for change. Recommendations include two tested frame elements to make the case for oral health equity: the value Targeted Justice and the metaphor Keys to Oral Health.

Getting Stories to Stick: The Shape of Public Discourse on Oral Health (2017)
This systematic content analysis explores how the news media and advocacy organizations frame oral health. It provides experts and advocates with a detailed understanding of the communications environment that surrounds them and points to strategic opportunities to reshape it.


Stay tuned for a new communications toolkit to support efforts to reframe oral health. Until then, check out our previous research and resources on framing children’s oral health below.

Talking About Children's Oral Health Toolkit includes a variety of sample communications, from Frequently Asked Questions to sample opinion editorials and case studies, that illustrate how to apply the framing research.

Work through the interactive Watch Your Mouth e-Workshop to learn more about framing recommendations and test your framing IQ in a series of interactive exercises.

Photo credit: U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

FrameWorks Institute

  Updated: 02/16/18