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ADA urges administration to maintain oral health focus

Washington—The Association urged the Obama administration to reconsider a proposed agency reorganization “inconsistent with” administration oral health initiatives and threatening CDC’s dental public health focus on areas such as infection control and fluoridation.

“The current organizational structure promotes clear dental leadership, unity of purpose and responsiveness that will be undermined if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health is subsumed into a division with a larger public health mission focused on adults,” ADA officials said in a Jan. 11 letter to the administration’s top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The ADA strongly opposes eliminating the DOH as an identifiable division focused on oral health and making it merely a branch of another division. We strongly urge that the decision be reconsidered and reversed.”

The CDC, a Health and Human Services agency, had no immediate response to the letter posted at ada.org, nor has the administration announced reorganization plans.

“Dissolving one of the separate dental divisions from the Department would only seem to decrease and take away from highlighting the importance of preventing and treating oral disease,” said the letter signed by ADA President Raymond Gist and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin.

HHS launched a multi-agency oral health initiative last year oral health initiativeinitiatives listed that would appear to be “inconsistent with addressing this widely recognized access problem and the department’s own message regarding oral health,” the Association said.

“The ADA has come to value its relationship with the DOH as a collaborator on some of the most important initiatives benefitting the public’s oral health over the past decade.” The letter cited community water fluoridation, infection control in dental offices and recommendations for evidence-based care among those initiatives.

“A director level position held by a dentist credentialed in dental public health is critical to assuring that dentistry maintains equal footing with the other chronic disease program directors who would be his or her peers,” the ADA officials said. “Furthermore, retaining the DOH as a separate division will help assure that the division attracts top notch candidates.”