28 Mar 2009
Nearly 150 stakeholders from non-profit groups, government agencies and private industry met March 23-25 at a summit on access to dental care convened by the American Dental Association (ADA) to create a common vision toward improving the oral health of underserved populations.
"Both the private and public sectors are challenged to meet the needs of an ever-growing number of U.S. residents who cannot regularly access oral health care," said John S. Findley, D.D.S., ADA president. "In many ways, this is a societal issue.
"We are very pleased with the success of the summit, which will serve as a milestone toward our common goal of improving access to dental care. The ADA firmly believes that practical solutions must come from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and then be implemented first among those populations at highest risk for oral disease and with the least ability to access care. We are committed to finding common ground and shared solutions to address the oral health needs of the most vulnerable among us."
Participants included dental special interest groups, federal agencies, health care policymakers, advocacy groups, dental industry, dental education and research communities, financing communities, including third-party payers and philanthropic organizations, safety net providers, non-dental health care providers, ADA leadership, dental volunteer leaders and state dental society executive directors.
The participants shared their knowledge and experience and discussed new and existing approaches to reducing disparities and securing optimal oral health for all. Among the major topics discussed were increasing collaboration between the dental and medical communities; workforce development strategies; strengthening dental delivery systems, the dental public health infrastructure, and population-based prevention strategies; improving oral health literacy through social marketing; and finding better ways to define and measure the access issue.
The organizers' intention is that the summit's success will strengthen existing relationships among dental professionals and other stakeholders and encourage a continuing dialogue.
The meeting was held at the ADA's national headquarters in Chicago and was underwritten primarily through sponsorship from the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., with the support of Procter & Gamble and the Dental Trade Alliance.