New release from APHA Press examines oral health of 49 million Americans as a social justice issue

Date: Mar 26 2019

Contact: Louise Dettman, 202-777-2509

Oral health book explores how untreated dental problems severely impact nation's health

Washington D.C., March 26, 2019 — A new book from APHA Press, “Oral Health in America: Removing the Stain of Disparity,” explores a wide range of issues related to oral health inequities, their impacts and solutions. Despite technical advances in the field, inequities persist in the U.S. Millions of children, older adults, incarcerated individuals and those with disabilities and health conditions cannot access quality oral health care because either no provider is available or the cost is prohibitive.

Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and produced in partnership with Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved, a division of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, it advocates for health equity.

“Any consideration of general health would be incomplete without inclusion of oral health,” note the book’s editors, Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, research professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Caswell A. Evans, DDS, MPH, associate dean for prevention and public health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Despite technical advances in the field of oral health, inequities persist in the U.S. Millions of children, older adults, incarcerated individuals and those with disabilities and health conditions cannot access quality oral healthcare because either no provider is available or the cost is prohibitive.

“The current oral healthcare paradigm endorsed by professional organizations in this country is inadequate and broken,” note editors Henrie M. Treadwell, PhD, research professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Caswell A. Evans, DDS, MPH, associate dean for prevention and public health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It advances the profession, not the individuals in pain, who are invisible to the systems that should be providing for their care. Oral health is a social justice issue.”

The authors of “Oral Health in America” assert that inequities stem from lack of accessible care, limited workforce diversity, limited and nonexistent coverage and affordability, poor disease prevention measures and, perhaps most significant, social determinants of health.

Chapters offer education, training, partnership and systemic solutions, with a focus on dental therapy as key to improving oral health and achieving culturally competent and racially diverse oral health equity for all. The book highlights changes and challenges in dental education and its ability to prepare an oral health workforce with appropriate diversity, capacity and flexibility to address oral health inequities for underserved populations.

“Communities must acknowledge the role that race and ethnicity has played in oral health disparities,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Our hope is that this book sparks conversations that help to heal those wounds and move forward to implement workforce strategies — like dental therapy — to provide much-needed care to patients.”

ISBN: 978-0-87553-305-6, softcover, 400 pages, list price: $30, plus handling (APHA member price: $21). To order, call toll-free 888-320-APHA, email apha@pbd.com or visit www.aphabookstore.org. Review copy requests should be sent by email to David Hartogs.

About W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the U.S. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children, so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. WKKF is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the U.S. and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places, where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

About Morehouse School of Medicine 
Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. In 2011, MSM was recognized by “Annals of Internal Medicine” as the nation’s No. 1 medical school in fulfilling a social mission. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit www.msm.edu or call 404-752-1500.