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Satellite media tour emphasizes dentists' role on health care team

In only one month of release, the ADA satellite media tour "Dentists Are Doctors of Oral Health" has aired 158 times and reached more than 4.5 million viewers.

The SMT shows that dentists are an essential part of the health care team, and are uniquely trained to diagnose and treat oral diseases and traumatic injury to the face, jaw and oral cavity. 

Former Marine Cpl. Jason Poole, who in a 2004 Iraqi roadside bomb attack suffered devastating head and facial injuries, spoke of his experience and recovery in TV and radio interviews last month in a Chicago studio, alongside oral surgeon and ADA national spokesperson Dr. David Johnson.

Mr. Poole has since undergone eight surgeries to reconstruct his face, jaw, mouth and orbital bones. Oral surgeons, orthodontists and general dentists have all been part of his "Smile Team" at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dentists played a critical role in rebuilding Mr. Poole's face and giving him a new smile, Dr. Johnson said in interviews June 11. He highlighted the fact that a doctor's degree in dentistry requires a rigorous and lengthy education, and that dentists are responsible for:

  • creating treatment plans to maintain or restore their patients' oral health;
  • interpreting X-rays and diagnostic tests;
  • ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics;
  • monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws;
  • performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity;
  • managing oral trauma and emergency situations.

The topic of the satellite media tour is the result of an initiative passed by the 2008 ADA House of Delegates that sought opportunities to educate policymakers, the media and the public about the complexity of dental treatment, the dentist's unique ability to deliver that treatment safely, and the education and training needed to become a dentist. The ADA has also developed a brochure that emphasizes those points, "Dentists: Doctors of Oral Health."

Mr. Poole, who is blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, is now a war veteran and Purple Heart recipient who is engaged to be married next year. He said he is pleased with the result of all his surgeries.

"I think this face is good," he said with a smile in interviews last month.