07:31 AM

Maryland Hosts First Oral Health Heroes Celebration

On June 4, the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) will host Maryland’s first annual Oral Health Heroes celebration at the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore beginning at 9am. The agenda includes a panel discussion, “Closing the Gap: Making Oral Health Accessible, Affordable, and Achievable,” followed by the presentation of awards. I appreciate the opportunity extended to me by the MDAC to moderate the panel.

The Maryland Dental Action Coalition* is an interesting story about how a community came together in response to tragedy. The group was first established as the Dental Action Committee in 2007 by Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene John M. Colmers in response to the tragic death of 12-year old Deamonte Driver from an untreated dental infection. The first goal of the Dental Action Committee-- a remarkable team of legislators, policy makers, health administrators, and local dental practitioners from across Maryland-- was to establish policies, practices and public education initiatives aimed at preventing such a tragedy from happening again. In the span of a few years, Maryland has become a national model for constructive change. I can only image how difficult it must be to select just a few of the remarkable individuals working on behalf of better access to prevention and oral health care throughout Maryland for recognition this Friday.

I am looking forward to hearing the insights of the well-informed and energetic panel that the MDAC has assembled:
  • Catherine Dunham of the Children’s Dental Health Project
  • Dr. Leslie Grant, Past President of the National Dental Association and Chair of the Legislative Committee
  • Dr. Norman Tinanoff, of the Department of Health Promotion and Policy of the University of Maryland (and a member of the DentaQuest Foundation’s Board of Directors)
  • Laurie Norris, Campaign Manager for the Pew Charitable Trust’s Children’s Dental Campaign
  • Barbara Klein, Associate Vice President, Government and Community Affairs for the University of Maryland.
I anticipate a lively discussion on the state of oral health in Maryland, what is on the horizon to continue the progress Maryland has made, and how oral health access and oral disease disparities will be addressed in national heath reform. If you are near the National Museum of Dentistry on Friday morning (June 4), join us for this unique celebration of oral health in Maryland.

And check back next week for news from the event.

*The Maryland Dental Action Coalition has a 2009 grant from the DentaQuest Foundation to support its transition to a sustainable statewide oral health coalition.

Guest Post by Ralph Fuccillo, President, DentaQuest Foundation