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W.K. Kellogg Foundation Extends Commitment to Reduce Oral Health Disparities

Posted on December 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has awarded a two year,

$400,000 grant to the American Dental Education Association Minority Dental Faculty

Development (ADEA MDFD) program to address oral health disparities in vulnerable children

and communities. The ADEA MDFD program’s approach is to bring together academic dental

health professionals with partners in their communities to create a longer term environment

where regular dental care is attainable by all Americans.

 

A growing body of research indicates that minority patients are more likely to seek health care

from a minority health care provider, and similarly, that practitioners from underserved areas

often return to those areas to practice. The MDFD program seeks to develop new, more diverse

generations of allied dental health professionals prepared to meet the systemic, unmet need for

dental care across the United States. It emphasizes best practices in outreach, leadership

development, academic mentorship and increasing diversity in the academic pipeline.

 

The two year grants for MDFD III (2013-2015) are being awarded to: the University of Detroit

Mercy, Georgia Regents University, Howard University (Year One: 2013-2014), and the

University of Oklahoma and University of Minnesota (Year Two: 2014-2015).

“The diversity of dental and allied dental school faculty has a direct and positive effect on

students, and ultimately on patients in communities where oral health care may be more difficult

to find,” says Jeanne C. Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D., ADEA Senior Scholar-in-Residence. “These

Kellogg Foundation grants are absolutely critical to the ability of the dental health professions to

do our part in getting oral health care to the people who need it most.”

 

As of October 2014, there are 4,968 areas in the country designated as Dental Health

Professional Shortage Areas, where there are 5,000 or more people per dentist. This lack of

access to oral health care affects Americans of all ages–adults with incomes below 100% of the

federal poverty line are three times more likely to have untreated oral health care needs, and it

is worse for children. In 2010, 4.2 million children aged 2–7 years were in need of dental care

and yet did not receive it.

 

“When people go without oral health care, they risk discomfort, disease and even death,” says

Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of ADEA. “We know that we can

start to close the gaps in access to oral health care with innovative approaches within education,

and the Kellogg Foundation’s support is a significant step forward to making that a

reality.”

 

More information on the ADEA MDFD program is available here.