11:50 AM

Building a Movement for Optimal Oral Health

By Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation

According to a recent report from the Institute of Medicine, “Millions of Americans are not receiving needed dental care services because of "persistent and systemic" barriers that limit their access to oral health care. Nearly 5 million children went without regular dental checkups in 2008 because of financial limitations. 33.3 million Americans live in an area with a shortage of dental professionals.” Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations

Stories like this illustrate the need that drives the DentaQuest Foundation’s investments in oral health improvement at the national, state and local levels. Previously, I wrote about the DentaQuest Foundation’s support for the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance which is engaging national partners in oral health improvement goals.

People feel the pain of their inability to get needed services at the local level. So today, I am writing about the Oral Health 2014 Initiative. This new signature program of the DentaQuest Foundation is building a movement for oral health at the state and community level by supporting the work of state-based organizations that are developing effective community solutions.

When we announced the Oral Health 2014 initiative, we immediately saw a clear need and interest in community solutions for oral health across the United States. Over 200 program leaders from nearly every state joined in our Request for Proposals launch webinar in June. Seventy (70) organizations responded with their ideas. Thirty-six (36) were invited to submit a full proposal.

Today, Oral Health 2014 is taking root and moving forward in 20 states. I am enthusiastic about every one of these organizations. Each is working to build support for oral health solutions in their communities, engaging traditional and not-so-traditional partners. Oral Health 2014 is a multi-year initiative. The DentaQuest Foundation is committed to each organization’s success, providing financial and technical resources to help them move their projects forward.

This is an important moment for oral health. These 20 state organizations join the growing national movement of collaborative leaders who are aligned in their desire to address oral health disparities-- many hands working toward a common goal.

I extend the gratitude of the DentaQuest Foundation to the National Advisory Committee of leaders in community health, philanthropy, civic engagement, and members of the founding board of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance. They provided guidance in the development of the program and the selection of grantees.
  • Dr. Caswell Evans of the University of Illinois, DentaQuest Foundation Board of Directors and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Paul Gilmer of Triana Energy and a member of the National Community Committee of the CDC Prevention Research Centers
  • Dr. Leslie E. Grant of the National Dental Association and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Marion Kane, formerly of Barr Foundation and currently on the Board of the Directors for the DentaQuest Foundation
  • Dr. Dushanka Kleinman of the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors
  • Barbara Leonard of the Maine Health Access Foundation
  • Sandra Owens Lawson of CRP Corp.
  • Dr. Lindsey Robinson of the California Dental Association Foundation and the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Founding Board of Directors, and
  • Dr. Donna Shelley of New York University School of Nursing and Dentistry.

Congratulations to our new Oral Health 2014 partners! I encourage you to join them in building collaborative solutions.

The DentaQuest Foundation will continue to look for ways to support local leaders in their important work to make oral health a public health priority. We encourage every group who was interested in Oral Health 2014 to stay active as oral health advocates by contributing their talents and enthusiasm to the work of the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance which is tackling the same priority areas at the national level.