HHS Agencies Team with Academy of General Dentistry to Promote Healthy People 2010 Oral Health Objectives
The federal government and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have joined forces to promote access to preventive oral health services and eliminate oral health disparities.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), several federal agencies and the AGD pledged to speed progress towards national objectives set by Healthy People 2010, the nation's disease prevention and health promotion goals and objectives for the next decade.
The federal health agencies signing the MOU include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Public Health and Science, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health.
AGD is non-profit organization of 37,000 general dentists whose mission is to serve the interests of general dentists and foster their continued proficiency through continuing education.
"We are looking forward to working with the AGD to achieve the important Healthy People 2010 goals to prevent oral diseases, especially in our rural and minority populations," said Eve E. Slater, M.D., the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"Strong public-private partnerships are essential if we are to make significant strides towards addressing key disparities in access to preventive dental care for vulnerable children and adults," said James S. Marks, MD, MPH, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "This strategic agreement between the federal government and the Academy of General Dentistry will help us support one another's efforts to bring us closer to our mutual goal of eliminating health disparities, including those related to oral health."
Access to dental care is a major problem for many Americans. For example, only 1 in 5 low-income children and adolescents receive an annual preventive dental service; this figure is less for African-American (13 percent) and Hispanic youth (16 percent). Currently, only 3 percent of low-income 8-year-old children, and 11 percent of African-American children have received a dental sealant - a plastic coating applied to protect the chewing surfaces of teeth from decay. Overall, 23 percent of 8-year-olds have sealants-less than half of the Healthy People 2010 target of 50 percent. And, while approximately one-third of white Americans did not have an annual dental visit, nearly half of Hispanics (47 percent) and African-Americans (43 percent) and two-thirds (66 percent) of American Indians/Alaskan Natives did not receive dental services.
The partnership agreement commits the five agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to work with AGD over the next two years to improve access to oral health care, train the dental workforce and provide public education.
"The Academy of General Dentistry is committed to increasing the oral health literacy of health care professionals, policymakers and the public," said AGD president-elect Dr. Jim Richeson. "We also plan to use our publications to promote awareness of the Healthy People 2010 objectives, and to encourage dentists to become more involved in community efforts to increase access to care for vulnerable children and adults," Richeson said.
Among those signing the MOU with Dr. Richeson were Eve E. Slater, MD, Assistant Secretary of Health; Randolph F. Wykoff, MD, MPH, TM, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health; Michael H. Trujillo, MD, MPH, MS, IHS Director; Elizabeth M. Duke, Ph.D., administrator, HRSA; Dr Marks, CDC; Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, Ph.D, director., National Center of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH.
For more information on federal initiatives on oral health and the Academy of General Dentistry, visit the following Web sites:
Healthy People 2010: www.health.gov/healthypeople
Academy of General Dentistry: www.agd.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oral Health Program: www.cdc.gov/oralhealth
Health Resources and Services Administration: www.hrsa.gov
Indian Health Service: www.ihs.gov
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: www.nidcr.nih.gov
Surgeon General's Report; Oral Health in America: www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/oralhealth
CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.