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We built our home on a foundation of science and values: Dr. Findley

In his address to the House of Delegates Friday, ADA President John S. Findley zeroed in on three "overriding concerns" that have commanded the Association's attention in recent years: health care reform, the Association itself and the future.

Before delving into those weighty matters, however, the president took a moment to acknowledge the "historical significance" of this, the ADA's sesquicentennial year and its 150th annual session.

"Not many organizations in the relatively young life of our country can trace their roots back 150 years," said Dr. Findley, adding that the Association "has grown and prospered" largely with the advancement of dental science.

"We have been successful because we had science as a foundation, and we built our home on values: caring, integrity, honesty, openness and a genuine concern for others," he said. "What we value has brought us to this point."

Turning to the national discussion of health care reform, he noted that the nation's health care system, "of which we are an integral part, lies open and vulnerable." And awaits improvement.

Dr. Findley advocated strengthening the public health infrastructure and funding existing programs that have "withered from a lack of congressional support." He said dentistry's emphasis on education, prevention, the dental team and the dental home
have helped position it to address the nation's access needs.

"Never has the time been more critical for moving our ideas forward in the public realm," said the ADA president. Later he observed, "We have something in these United States worth protecting. We have more than a start; we have an opportunity to see that oral health care and health care in general are expanded and improved."

On the Association itself, the president noted that the ADA has undergone significant change in the past year and a half. As problems were discovered and defined, he said, the leadership acted to resolve them.

Dr. Findley also touched on the development of the Community Dental Health Coordinator as part of the ADA's response to the access problem. The CDHC, now being shepherded within the Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, does not answer all needs, he said, "but its shortcomings are being rectified, and only financial hurdles remain." The president said he hoped corporate participation in the program would materialize soon.

Dr. Findley hailed the Association's rising international presence and the work of the Division of Global Affairs. The ADA, he said, is countering efforts to ban amalgam and has made "inroads in the support of individuals who provide care overseas."

He said The Journal of the American Dental Association and the ADA's new Web site on evidence-based dentistry are gaining in importance to other nations as they improve their capabilities in the realm of oral health.

"Our response this year to the Red Flags issue, our Access Summit, our participation in programs to support education and diversity in the profession, and our commitment to oral health literacy all demonstrate that, indeed, the ADA is maintaining relevancy."

Looking to the future, dentistry and the ADA stand to be "more significant and more relevant to quality of life than our founding fathers could have ever imagined."

Added Dr. Findley, "We are poised to lead patient care in an environment that has proven: Dentistry is health care that works!"