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House measure calls on dentists to be community health leaders

Las Vegas—The 2011 House of Delegates encourages ADA member dentists to become leaders in grassroots community efforts to improve the health of the public through Resolution 18H-2011, passed during Annual Session last month.

The measure, submitted by the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, is intended to encourage dentists to take a proactive role in making sure that oral health is an integral part of improving the overall health in their communities, said Dr. David Holwager, CAPIR chair.

“Dentists are very generous with their time and talents, volunteering for Missions of Mercy events, GKAS events and other state and local oral health care access programs too numerous to mention,” Dr. Holwager said. “This resolution is intended to encourage dentists to go beyond these special events to assure that oral health is integrated into larger community efforts to improve health.”

The resolution draws on dentists’ ethical responsibility outlined in the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct and supports one of the four goals of the ADA Strategic Plan, said Dr. Holwager.

“The Code states that individual dentists ‘have an obligation to use their skills, knowledge and experience for the improvement of the dental health of the public and are encouraged to be leaders in their community,’” Dr. Holwager said.

“One of the four goals of the ADA Strategic Plan 2011-2014 calls for the Association to ‘be the trusted resource for oral health information that will help people be good stewards of their own oral health.’ CAPIR believes that this goal may best be advanced by dentists serving as oral health care leaders in their communities so that dentists will be in the best position to make oral health an integral part of the collective effort focused on improving the overall health of their communities.”

Dr. Marilyn Lantz, chair of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, agreed.

“While member dentists are currently engaged in many activities that address our ethical obligation to improve the dental health of the public,” said Dr. Lantz, “assuming leadership roles in oral health in our communities is a particularly effective way to meet this obligation and one that may have the broadest possible impact on the overall health of our communities.”

Dentists, Dr. Holwager added, can serve in roles that include volunteer leaders for boards of local health departments and federally qualified health centers, school health advisory councils, nursing home advisory committees, Head Start Health Service Advisory Committees, local health partnerships and local oral health coalitions.

In a separate House action, delegates referred Res. 35 for review by CAPIR. Res. 35 called for the rescission of the 1966 policy “American Dental Association Dental Health Program for Children.” CAPIR is directed to review the resolution and report to the 2012 House of Delegates.