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California lawmakers approve funding of state dental director position

July 03, 2014

By Kelly Soderlund

image of Dr. Stephens
Dr. James Stephens
Sacramento, Calif.—
The California governor and legislature approved funding a state dental director and an epidemiologist in the 2014-15 state budget.

The budget provides $474,000 for the first year to assess oral health needs in the state, develop and manage a state oral health plan and apply for and manage federal and private grants to support oral health. The role will also include establishing prevention and oral health literacy projects and working to secure funding for prevention-focused oral health and essential disease prevention services, particularly for children.

The state dental director must be a licensed dentist.

“This is the most impactful state oral health achievement in decades,” Dr. James Stephens, CDA president, said in a news release. “CDA members have collectively worked for and supported the establishment of a state dental director for many years. This is a significant step toward addressing the oral health care crisis facing millions of Californians through coordinated state oral health education and preventive programs led by a dental director and partnered with care provided by dentists across the state.”

Establishing a dental director was the top priority of the CDA in its 2011 access to care plan, “Phased Strategies for Reducing the Barriers to Dental Care in California.”

The CDA advocated to the governor’s office that the selected dental director must have extensive experience running a state or large county dental program. The state will begin the hiring process immediately and the CDA is committed to helping. Members can stay informed through CDA’s newsletter and on cda.org.