09:24 AM

Prevention Summit Targets Eradicating Childhood Caries

By Ralph Fuccillo, DentaQuest Chief Mission Officer, President DentaQuest Foundation

As I’ve said many times, the common diseases of the mouth – cavities and gum disease—are nearly completely preventable with education, information and access to care.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Prevention Summit. As a leading national professional dental association, the ADA commands attention. The ADA brought together participants from academia/research, private practice dentistry, philanthropy, dental teams, health promotion, industry, non-dental health care providers, patient advocates, policymakers, insurers and ADA dental societies. I sat with colleagues in philanthropy. Dr. John Luther, DentaQuest’s Chief Dental Officer, joined others involved in financing care. Dr. Michael Monopoli, Director of Policy and Programs for the DentaQuest Foundation joined the policy table. Dr. Rob Compton, Executive Director of the DentaQuest Institute led a session on How Financing Incentivizes and Reinforces Practice.

Elaine Kuttner of Cambridge Concord Associates led the group through an interactive summit agenda and initiated thoughtful table discussions. Many of us have come to know and respect Elaine for her careful work in guiding common ground conversations at the U.S. National Oral Health Alliance Colloquia. I was also very pleased to see that the DentaQuest Foundation’s Systems Change Approach was one of the prevention frameworks presented for discussion. After two days, the Summit concluded with all agreeing to some ambitious goals:
  1. Eradicate childhood caries
  2. Emphasize health equity
  3. Apply the chronic disease framework to dental disease
  4. Build community-facing care systems
  5. Redesign prevention
I was particularly inspired by the keynote presentation of Dr. Hayagreeva Rao, PhD, the Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources at Stanford University. Professor Rao studies the social and cultural causes of change and the role of social movements as motors of change. Dr. Rao encouraged participants to consider the motivational dynamics of other movements and how an oral health movement might be shaped.
We are at a crucial movement in oral health. The ACA has inserted prevention and oral health into the national dialogue. People who had not previously had the ability to purchase dental insurance for themselves or their families now can through the exchanges. And the emerging national network of oral health supporters and advocates, many of whom are Foundation grantees and partners, is ready and willing to carry the message of oral health to families, consumers, care givers, policymakers, and legislators.
Following the Summit, there have been many meaningful exchanges among participants regarding the potential and sometimes the frustration in funding ways to make prevention a more central focus of oral health.
For more information on DentaQuest Foundation and DentaQuest Institute, visit DentaQuest.com.