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Oral Health
Section Newsletter
Spring 2005

Message from the Section Chair

May 2005

Dear members,

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful spring. In the northeast the endless shades of green and beautiful varieties of blossoms are always a welcome sight after our winters. I always feel renewed and refreshed by the rebirth and promise of spring.

I know many of you attended the National Oral Health Conference in Pittsburgh on May 1 as I did. The conference was terrific, with the toughest choice being “Which session to attend?”, as they offered great speakers on interesting topics. The awards luncheons and Foundation celebration honored people who’ve made outstanding contributions to the promotion of oral health, and the social hours were a great time to network and have fun.

For the second year in a row, leadership in our Section met with the chair people of ASTDD and AAPHD to explore our common goals and look for ways to align for synergy. One challenge that we face is HOW do we choose WHAT to speak out about, and WHO does it? How do we become a “virtual” organization that is able to put forth an issue, hear from the members, and summarize representative wishes and concerns of the group throughout the year, not just at the time of the annual meeting? The WHY of our alignment should mean something and have power.

There are lots of exciting things going on that offer the opportunity to comment, raise the awareness of the general public and professional groups about the myriad of issues around oral health, e.g. the initiative to improve the oral health of Alaskan natives written up in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the Oral Health Promotion Act of 2005, and the Special Care Dentistry Bill just to name a few. There are local and state-specific news stories that call attention, usually sensational and often not totally factually correct, to the need to be involved in our communities. As a group we are the experts. We know the science, the research, the demographics the strengths and weaknesses of our policies and practices. We have the stories.

Give us your input. We want to know how you feel and think on the issues and how we can best support you. There are less than six months until our conference in New Orleans in November. The theme is Evidence Based Policy and Practice. A plenary session celebrating the 60th anniversary of fluoridation in the United States will shine a spotlight on the efforts and successes that improved the health status of the population. There is a full program of workshops, poster sessions, awards and networking. We have our annual business meeting there, and I hope you all attend. I very much want to know your concerns and suggestions and make sure they are on our agenda for discussion and consideration. Please write to me or the other officers or use our newsletter to submit your articles or react to what you read there. Ask your colleagues if they are members, and invite them to join.

Just as spring stands for renewal, I urge you to renew and refresh your energy, and help make this Section a vital force and voice for improved oral care in our country and the world. Thank you all for the great work that you do every day.

Best wishes, Dyan

Message from the Newsletter Editor

Welcome to the spring 2005 edition of the Section Newsletter. Once again I'd like to encourage everyone to submit articles for the next edition (deadline for submission is August 30, 2005). We are particularly interested in hearing about local oral health activities and successes that should be publicized to a wider audience: this month we include information from an oral health coalition in Central New York.

E-mail submissions to Tim Cooke at <>.

If you have not done so already, please check out our new Web site, <>, for information about the Section, a calendar of events and links to oral health resources. Please e-mail ideas for improvements, suggestions for links and calendar entries and any content you would like included to: <>.

National Fluoridation Symposium

National Fluoridation Symposium 
As part of the 60th anniversary celebration of community water fluoridation, the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with numerous cosponsors, are hosting the National Fluoridation Symposium 2005 in Chicago on July 13–16.

The goal of the symposium is to recognize the impact of water fluoridation on improved oral health and, in turn, general health by preventing tooth decay nationwide.

A host of interested parties will gather, from researchers, dental professionals, public health officials, community leaders and legislators, to anyone with an interest in improving public health in their community. The symposium is open to the public.

Letter to APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin

Section Chair Dyan Campbell recently sent the following letter on behalf of the Oral Health Section:

Georges C. Benjamin, MD FACP
Executive Director
APHA 800 I St. NW
Washington, DC 20001-3710

Dear Dr. Benjamin, June 6, 2005

The article “Improving the Oral Health of the Alaska Natives" in the May 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health has created quite a stir in the public health community. It is fantastic in that it draws attention to the issue of limited access to dental care for Alaskan natives. However, it has also served as a rallying point for the American Dental Association and the Alaska Dental Society to speak out against the Dental Health Aide Therapists saying,’ only dentists provide non-reversible treatments’.

It also raises the question of “What is the relationship of APHA to the sections?” When articles are submitted that address professional issues, core to a section’s mission, how is the section’s input sought and received, and if not, why not? As far as I know the authors are not members of the oral health section of APHA, and the views expressed in this article are not shared by many in public health dentistry.

There is a proposed resolution from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) Annual Business at the National Oral Health Conference meeting in May 2005 that strongly supports the ‘innovative’ Alaska Dental Health Aides and Therapists program. The APHA Oral Health section is currently mobilizing to make a formal public response to this program. As we pursue efforts to gain and retain membership in our Section, we communicate the value and benefit of belonging to the Oral Health Section of APHA, to align for synergy and improve the public’s health. It is ironic that the program information and the controversy that follow are presented in a journal that comes from the organization without any editorial or peer review by the Oral Health Section.

What is out relationship?

Is it possible that when any article is submitted for publication, the relevant section be alerted and invited to comment and be involved in the peer review process? I know that the August 2005 issue will have a paper called "Filling the Gap in Dental Care." I hope it offers the opportunity for our Section to boost and support the premises. I will call your office and seek a time to speak with you on this matter. Thank you.


Dyan Campbell RN, BSN, MPH
Chair of the Oral Health Section

Frances Atkinson, Manager of Section Affairs
Mary Northridge, AJPH editor
Dr. Howard Pollick, Incoming Chair OH section
Kathy Lituri, Secretary OH Section

Response from Georges Benjamin

Section Chair Dyan Campbell had a positive discussion with APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, about her letter:

Dear members,

I am pleased to report to you about a phone conversation I had with Dr. Benjamin. I'd written to him and called to express the views and concerns of many of you regarding articles that focus on oral health appearing in the American Journal of Public Health without any input or dialogue with Oral Health section members.

Dr. Benjamin was very clear that APHA is separate from the AJPH, which does not necessarily represent the views of APHA. He states that the newspaper The Nation's Health is where APHA views are professed. He was attentive to the fact that in our attempts to raise and sustain membership it is vital to encourage oral health professionals to join and receive the benefit of alignment with the APHA's mission and goals. He stated that the Journal is always looking for peer reviewers. If you are interested in serving as a peer reviewer, please send your resume and a short cover letter to Mary Northridge, editor. He also suggested that people should write vigorous, scholarly rebuttal letters to the Journal stating their views. You can write letters to the editor which are limited to 400 words, or you can submit and be reviewed online without a word limitation.

Dr. Benjamin also offered to consider a nomination for the editorial board, and see if the nominee matched the current needs of the board. We will forward a candidate for his consideration very soon. He also suggested that the Journal editor be invited to our business meeting in November. A suggested was made that Dr. Benjamin be invited to come and address the group as well.

I'm very glad that the Alaska initiative is spurring public health dental people to speak out on these issues of access and scope of practice. The problems of the Alaskan natives with high rates of dental disease, isolation and lack of providers is seen throughout the United States in both rural and inner city settings.

I always associated the phrase "Open Wide" with dental assessments and examinations. Might we also say it and mean it to include expanding, inviting, and welcoming other health care professionals to join us in our efforts to prevent and cure the epidemic of dental disease in our country?

Alaskan Dental Therapists

The controversy about Dental Therapists continues in Alaska. The May edition of the American Journal of Public Health contained a commentary giving the American Dental Association's position (Sekiguchi E, Guay AH, Brown LJ, Spangler TJ Jr. Improving the oral health of Alaska Natives. Am J Public Health. 2005;95:769–773), while state and national dentist representatives have elevated their opposition by asking Gov. Frank Murkowski to challenge the ability of Therapists to treat caries in court as a matter of state sovereignty. The Anchorage Daily News has followed the story closely and printed an opinion piece on June 2 opposing this move.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Public Health Service now has a Web site ( to provide information about the program.

Program News for New Orleans

The Planning Committee, Section leadership and our local contact Pam Vasquez have been hard at work planning an exciting program for the November Annual Meeting. Details of the Oral Health program will be updated on our Web site at

The social program is starting to take shape:

Section dinner on Monday, Nov. 7, to follow the Knutson Award presentation:

Tujague's - a casual fine dining Creole Restaurant
Choice of 2 entrees
$28.50 per person inclusive

Dancing will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, following the Business Meeting (and featuring the famous Myron Allukian Dance Contest). Stay tuned for more details.

For those who want to make the most of New Orleans' legendary nightlife, there are some suggestions of venues on the Web site (

Oral Health Promotion Act of 2005

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives in February would provide for expanded dental coverage under Medicaid and the State Children¹s Health Insurance Program and would provide funding for expanded community oral health services. The "Oral Health Promotion Act of 2005," introduced by a group of congressmen headed by Rep. Bernard Sanders (At Large-Vt.), would require states to provide dental care under both SCHIP and Medicaid and would provide additional funding to federally supported community health centers to set up oral health services. The bill, H.R. 594, has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Read the act here (enter bill no. HR594).

Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services

In response to the threat of Medicaid cuts, the Children's Dental Health Project recently released a policy brief citing research that shows the effectiveness and cost benefits of children's preventive dental services. The policy brief highlights the need and rationale for children's dental services to remain in the Medicaid program. Read a pdf of the policy brief at Return to Top

Local Activities in New York

One of our Oral Health Section members has been very active in her local Oral Health Coalition and in developing a new school- based sealant program.

The Central New York Dental Coalition

The Central N.Y. Dental Coalition brings together representatives from six counties: Oneida, Madison, Herkimer, Chenango, Otsego and Lewis covering 6,450 square miles and more than 500,000 people. The focus of the April 13 meeting was high-risk pregnancies with pre-term, low birth-weight babies. Mohawk Valley Perinatal Network and Faxton-St. Luke's Dental Clinic presented information on the impact that poor oral health has on high-risk pregnancies. Best practices for providing solutions to this challenging situation were discussed.

The August meeting will focus on the Oral Health portions of the Community Health Assessments from each county. The Coalition benefits from the brainstorming done at our meetings.

Anyone interested in more information should contact coordinator Heidi Philley, RDH.

School Based Sealant Program in Oneida & Madison Counties

The sealant program in Oneida and Madison Counties (whose startup was funded with MCH block grant money through a New York State Preventive Dentistry grant) completed a successful first year. The 70 - 80 percent return of consent forms, was a pleasant surprise. A dental health talk was presented to each class (that included toothbrushes for each child). All children with parental consent were screened and sealants provided where appropriate. The children were cooperative and pleased with their "sealed teeth." After 3-4 children returned to their
class confirming that it "did not hurt," we often had to add another day to that school visit, with more consent forms returned in the following days.

The schools look forward to our return and neighboring counties are interested in participating in the Sealant Program.

Compound from Chinese Medicine Shows Promise in Head and Neck Cancer

Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a compound derived from cottonseed oil that shows promise in treating head and neck cancers resistant to standard chemotherapies.

The compound, the negative isomer of gossypol ((-)-gossypol), works to regulate a protein called Bcl-xL that is overexpressed in head and neck cancer cells, according to Shaomeng Wang, PhD, co-director of the UM cancer center’s Molecular Therapeutics Program. Gossypol was once used in China as a male contraceptive.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 29,000 new cases of head and neck cancers in 2005. Such cancers are often resistant to chemotherapy and surgical treatments can have a profound effect on patients’ ability to talk, swallow and breathe.

Read the entire news release here.

Amalgam Targeted in Maine

Two bills introduced into the Maine legislature targeting dental amalgam have been tabled until next year pending results of the ongoing National Institutes of Health Amalgam studies.

However, a new bill was introduced that some legislators hope to pass this year targeting crematoriums. Legislators are aware that the mercury emissions from dental sources are near negligible, but they are the only mercury emmision in New England that they can control. The United Kingdom this year began requiring crematoriums there to install exhaust system scrubbers to capture mercury emissions. The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that funeral directors estimated the technology would add slightly less than $200 to a cremation's cost.

This legislative goal of zero tolerance towards mercury emission/exposure will likely continue beyond this legislative session.

Announcing the You Can! Celebration

The Administration on Aging encourages You Can! partners to join in celebrating ways for older adults to be active and healthy this September. Holding a local You Can! Celebration can help you spread the word about the importance of healthier lifestyles...and it can be fun!

During any seven-day period of September, AoA invites You Can! partners to create You Can! Celebration activities. These are activities where participants can make a pledge and engage in healthier lifestyle activities. If they see how easy and enjoyable it can be, hopefully they will continue the nutrition and physical activity behaviors and help others to improve their health, too.

All community partners that sign up and complete the contest entry form have a chance to receive awards. The contest will culminate with a ceremony in the Washington, D.C., metro area in October, where the best entries in leadership categories will be recognized.

For more information visit:

If your organization wants to participate and is not yet a You Can! partner, you can enroll at

Upcoming Meetings

An up-to-date list is available on the Web site at

American Dental Hygienist's Association Annual Session

June 22-29, 2005

Las Vegas, Nev.

National Fluoridation Symposium

July 13-16, 2005


National Dental Association Annual Convention

July 29-August 3, 2005

Las Vegas, Nev.

World Dental Federation 2005 Congress

August 24-27, 2005

Montreal, Canada

American Dental Association Annual Session

October 6-9, 2005


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

November 5-9, 2005

New Orleans

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: