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ADA Paper Calls for “Action for Dental Health”

Jennifer DiSanto

Posted on March 17, 2014

The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a new statement titled “Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities,” addressing disparities in oral health.

In the paper’s introduction, ADA President Charles Norman, DDS, says the Affordable Care Act will improve coverage for children in underserved areas, but that adults may be left behind, because there is no mandate for adult dental coverage.

“The occurrence of disease can be reduced dramatically,” Norman wrote. “This paper examines what works and why, what more is needed, and the rewards that are possible.”

The statement describes preventable dental issues, including tooth decay and gum disease, patient education about tobacco and alcohol use, and early detection of oral cancers.

Cost-benefit analyses of preventive care are provided, with figures on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding, NHANES data, and average preventive costs versus the savings of “stopping disease before it starts.” The paper emphasizes educating patients about the effects of eating patterns and food choices on their oral health, offering dietary advice for patients and their children.

Regarding children’s dental health, the ADA has compiled some state-specific data about school-based screenings and states that require proof that a child has had a dental exam before s/he enrolls in school. The paper concludes with an overview of the role of community dental health coordinators (CDHC), including their educational curriculum and interviews with CDHCs in Oklahoma and Philadelphia.

For more information about the paper and the ADA, visit www.ada.org.