American Public Health Association
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Oral Health
Section Newsletter
Fall 2005

Message from Chair

Dear Section members,

Wow, what a time this has been for people and the Gulf Coast. Looking back
at my last newsletter note, the excitement and anticipation of going to New
Orleans and having a great conference, seems such a naive contrast to the
ensuing disaster and crisis.

An amazing amount of assistance was needed, some well coordinated, others
not at all, really exposing system analysis, supply and response issues. I
know that each of you responded and gave from your own situations as best
you could. Kathy Lituri and others organized and sent a donation of
toothbrushes on behalf of the section, that would have been given out at
the conference, to people with immediate needs in the Gulf Coast.

Creating the APHA conference in Philadelphia in such a short time was an
incredible feat by APHA staff don't you think? We can all imagine the
logistics needed to make this successful.

Oscar Arevalo as our program planner this year, working with his committees
has also been incredible. He's been busy verifying the attendance of
workshop and poster presenters, modifying local arrangements, all in the
midst of job change and relocation as well.

I am still very much looking forward to attending the APHA conference in
December for the educational sessions as well as having the opportunity of
networking with everyone. We have a full agenda that puts issues of
national importance and impact for oral health quality and access on the
table for discussion and decision.

The student awards offer each of us an opportunity to support, mentor or be
awed by new talent in our profession. I love the Knutson award each year,
learning about the honorees who have given so much to improve the
experience of 'health for all'. Please remember to inform others about the
Oral Health Section and invite new members to join throughout the year.

I hope to see many of you in Philadelphia at our business meetings, social
events and presentations. Please write to me and let me know things that
you definitely want to be included in our discussions.

Thanks for all the great work that you do each day.

Best wishes to all.

Dyan Campbell

Message from the Newsletter Editor

Welcome to the fall 2005 edition of the Section Newsletter. Once again I'd like to encourage everyone to submit articles for the next issue, which will be a special edition timed to appear just before the delayed Annual Meeting. Deadline for submission is Nov. 11, 2005. We are particularly interested in highlighting activities that are related to the meeting in Philadelphia. E-mail submissions to Tim Cooke at <>.

Keep up to date with the Oral Health Section on our Web site <>, for information about the Section, a calendar of events and links to oral health resources. Updates and schedule changes for Philadelphia will appear regularly. Please e-mail ideas for improvements, suggestions for links and calendar entries and any content you would like included to: <>.

APHA's Hurricane Katrina Response

APHA has posted a comprehensive list of aid agencies, resources and volunteer opportunities here. The latest updates on the rescheduled annual meeting in Philadelphia, Dec. 10-14 can be found here.

The are links to resources from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Oral Health Section's Katrina/Rita Response

The APHA Oral Health Section donated seven cases of toothbrushes and seven cases of toothpaste previously destined for the Oral Health Section's booth in New Orleans to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief efforts. The 14 cases of supplies, matched in-kind by Boston University School of Dental Medicine, were shipped to the Department of Community Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The 28 cases of supplies (1,008 adult toothbrushes and 1,008 tubes of fluoridated toothpaste) were delivered to Rose Maldonado, executive director of the San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, which continues to see adult patients for emergency, preventive and primary dental care services transported from the various relief centers in the city of San Antonio, as well as from apartments provided by the San Antonio Housing Authority.

At the peak of the relief effort, four centers for evacuees operated in San Antonio, and they all had provisions for emergency dental care. Elaine Neenan assisted San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in their coordination of this emergency dental service effort, which also involved Barrio Comprehensive Community Health Center, El Centro del Barrio Family Dental Clinic, The San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, The Ricardo Salinas Dental Clinic, UTHSCSA faculty residents students and mobile facilities, Military dentists including a detachment of the Mexican Army, USPHS personnel and other individual dental professionals.

New Student Membership Program

For the second consecutive year, Oral Health Section members are invited to nominate a NEW STUDENT member for a free membership in APHA and the Oral Health Section. This is a great opportunity to promote interests in oral health and dental public health as well as infuse the Oral Health Section with new student members! This is also a great opportunity to encourage new student members to attend the upcoming meeting in Philadelphia this year, or perhaps the meeting in Boston next year.
  • Three New Students will be selected to receive annual membership to the APHA/Oral Health Section.
  • This offer is open to any Oral Health Section member to nominate one current college or university student or resident.
  • All nominations must be submitted by midnight, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2005.
  • Please submit each student nomination to Kathy Lituri, Oral Health Section Secretary, by e-mail to <>.

Be sure to include the following information:

  • The name, e-mail address and telephone number of the Oral Health Section member nominating the student.
  • Student's name.
  • College or University name.
  • Academic Program at College or University.
  • Student's postal address, city, state, zip code, email address, telephone number.
  • A short statement, one page or less, double-spaced, from the student indicating the reason why the student wants to join the APHA Oral Health Section.

Yvonne Kazim at the APHA Membership Office will coordinate the membership process of the selected students and incorporate their names into the membership database so they could immediately begin to receive The Nation's Health, the Section Newsletters and the electronic APHA News (electronic newsletter) that the Communications Department now sends to APHA members each month.

This offer is made possible with the continued support of GEICO, one of APHA's affinity program partners. GEICO supports APHA by underwriting the cost of 100 student memberships valued at $50 each. Each and every Section, SPIG and Student Assembly is invited to submit the names of three people who would be brand NEW STUDENT members to APHA.

Latest from Alaska: Unlicensed Dental Aides OK'd

In September the state of Alaska OK’d the use of unlicensed dental health aides in rural communties despite objections from many dentists that the aides are not qualified to drill and pull teeth, according to a Sept. 10 arcticle in the Anchorage Daily News.

The Alaska Attorney General’s office notified the Alaska Board of Dental Examiners that rural patients may receive dental care in community clinics from aides who are not licensed by the state. Such aides must be federally certified by the Community Health Aide Certification Board and employed by community-based clinics.

Alaska Attorney General Payl R. Lyle said in a written decision that the intention of Congress to provide for expanded rural health care in Alaska pre-empts state licensing law. The Alaska Dental Society disagreed with Lyle’s opinion.

Oral health problems are rampant among many Alaska communities, with the rate of dental decay among Native American children at twice the national rate, for example. A shortage of providers especially in the Alaska Bush is a long-standing problem.

Opponents of the Attorney General’s ruling may take the issue to court.

In an opinion article published in the Anchorage Daily News a few days after the news story, the decision was heralded as “a good call for the people of rural Alaska.”

New Oral Health Data Released

The Aug. 26 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report includes the latest surveillance data from NHANES 1999-2002. Access it here.

The New York Times featured an article on the report on Sept. 13. It detailed how the dental health of adolescents and adults has improved over the past decade, but also revealed a sharp increase in dental caries among the nation's poorest and youngest children. The full article can be accessed here.

An Issue Brief released by the Children's Dental Health Project comments on the study’s findings and discusses the implications for public and professional association policy-making.

American Journal of Public Health

The August issue of AJPH includes a number of articles on oral health including:

  • Confronting Oral Health Disparities Among American Indian/Alaska Native Children: The Pediatric Oral Health Therapist

  • Atraumatic Restorative Treatment for Prevention and Treatment of Caries in an Underserved Community

  • Barriers to Care-Seeking for Children’s Oral Health Among Low-Income Caregivers

  • The ABCDs of Treating the Most Prevalent Childhood Disease

APHA Medicaid White Paper Released

The American Public Health Association has released a white paper that provides a public health perspective to the Medicaid reform debate, focusing on the essential public health services covered by the program and its impact on personal and population health status and outcomes. Oral health is included among the issues.

The white paper is in line with the Action Board's priority to focus its efforts on Medicaid this year. It is also part of the campaign that the Board have been engaging in this year to preserve the Medicaid program, which is a crosscutting issue that falls under the Improving Access to Care and Eliminating Health Disparities priority areas. By releasing the paper at this time, it is hoped to influence policy-makers as they debate Medicaid reform, and the amount of savings that need to be derived from the program.

Individuals are encouraged to share the document when they meet with legislators and others involved in allocating scarce resources.

Special Olympics Health Care Providers Network

Special Olympics is urging oral health care professionals to participate in a new Health Care Providers Network for people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics’ experience and research found people with intellectual disabilities are not receiving sufficient health care, including oral health care. In response to these conditions, Special Olympics have unveiled an online database enabling patients to find health care professionals in their area willing to treat patients with intellectual disabilities. This Directory will allow health care professionals to identify themselves as willing to treat people with intellectual disabilities.

The "Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Providers Directory" is open to all health care providers in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean who are willing to provide services to persons with intellectual disabilities. Health care professionals sign up for the Directory on a voluntary basis and the Directory is meant to facilitate the connection between a person with intellectual disabilities and a health care professional.

The network is expected to be the largest list of health care providers for people with disabilities in North America. Special Olympics urges oral health professionals and other health care providers to sign up by visiting <> and clicking on Healthy Athletes Providers Directory. The Directory was launched on Sept. 29, 2005, at the American Academy of Family Physicians’ annual scientific convention. In early 2006, the Directory will be made public to individuals seeking health care providers who are willing to treat people with intellectual disabilities. For more information, please contact Randy Borntrager at <>.

World Health Organization Highlights Oral Health

The September edition of the "Bulletin of the World Health Organization" has Oral Health as its special theme. Articles include:
  • WHO's action for continuous improvement in oral health

  • Oral health, general health and quality of life

  • The effective use of fluorides in oral health

  • Global burden of oral diseases

Check out the Bulletin here.

Report Examines Medicaid Dental Cuts in Massachusetts

A new reoprt from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured takes a careful look at the impact of eliminating coverage of most dental services for adults in its Medicaid program, MassHealth. The report, "Eliminating Adult Dental Coverage in Medicaid: An Analysis of the Massachusetts Experience" is available here.

Amos Deinard Appointed to APHA Education Board

One of the most active members of the Oral Health Section Leadership, Amos Deinard, MD, MPH, has been appointed to the APHA Education Board. The Board is charged with maintaining and enhancing professional knowledge, increasing technical proficiencies, and enabling members to promote and protect environmental and community health.

Robert Bagramian Honored in Taiwan

Section member Robert Bagramian has been honored in Taiwan for founding the dental clinic at Changhua Christian Hospital, 40 years ago. The hospital, in Changhua near the island's west coast, is now a major medical and dental facility.

Read more about Bagramian's trip back to Taiwan here.

California Bans School Junk Food

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation to ban some junk foods from California high schools, in an effort to stem child obesity. "We are going to terminate obesity in California once and for all," the former bodybuilder and actor said in a Los Angeles Times article. The new laws extend to high schools a ban on soft drinks already in place at primary schools.

New limits on fat and sugar content have also been set for vending-machine snacks and food sold in school stores. Federal nutrition standards currently cover the lunches served by most state-funded schools.

Under the new rules, pizza, burritos, pasta and sandwiches must contain no more than four grams of fat for every 100 calories, with a total of no more than 400 calories. From 2007, students will only be allowed to buy water, milk and some fruit and sports drinks that contain a controlled amount of sweeteners.

Read the full story from the LA Times here.

True Age Revealed in Tooth Enamel

A Swedish scientist has developed a method of determining the age of a person by analyzing their teeth for radioactive carbon-14. The element greatly increased in the atmosphere throughout the world after nuclear testing began in 1955, and has dropped since 1963. By looking at the amount of the in the tooth enamel, scientists can correctly predict a person's age to within roughly 1.6 years.


Upcoming meetings in the next few months

A full calendar and any updates are available on the Section Web site:

American Dental Association Annual Session
Oct. 6-9, 2005

Hispanic Dental Association Annual Meeting
Nov. 17-19, 2005
San Antonio

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting
Dec. 10-14, 2005

National Oral Health Conference
May 1-3, 2006
Little Rock, Ark.

Dental Public Health Listserv

Where can you find discussion of important issues in public health dentistry? Find answers to your questions? Be kept up to date with new developments? Find job postings? On the dental public health listserv, run by Bob Weyant and given courtesy space on the University of Pittsburgh server. It is open to anyone with an interest in oral health and public health.

To subscribe, send an e-mail from the address you wish to use for the list with the word subscribe in the body of the text (leave the Subject line blank) to: <>.