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National Coalition Consensus Conference

An Unprecedented Challenge

As health care providers and advocates, we are faced with an unprecedented challenge: increasing numbers of vulnerable older adults and people with functional limitations who require complex oral health care. The ADA thanks those who took part in this unique opportunity to shape the future of oral health care and improve quality of life for this underserved and growing population.

Working Together—We Can Create a Solution

"On November 18, 2010, I was pleased to represent the ADA at the ADA National Consensus Conference on the Oral Health of Vulnerable Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities. Successfully expanding access to care for these vulnerable citizens will require a broad, collaborative effort, and I was delighted to participate in a roundtable discussion that will help shape a strategic plan and mechanism for action. The two-day conference in Washington was made possible through a grant from the ADA Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare—and it brought together 150 oral health advocates who represented not only the dental profession, but also other health professionals, academic, geriatric, government and foundation advocates.

Focusing on elder care is an ADA priority—backed by policy adopted by the House of Delegates in 2006. Speaking together with other organizations, we can find new ways to lift the oral health needs of the vulnerable elderly and disabled populations out of the shadows."

—Raymond Gist, DDS
President, American Dental Association

Conference Format

The purpose of the Conference was to take the first step in building a broad coalition of groups aware of the challenges facing our nation in this area and committed to developing resources needed to address these issues. The Conference brought together representatives from professional dental associations, general health organizations, consumer advocacy groups and policy makers. The rationale, implications, and steps needed to create needed solutions were explored in an interactive consensus building program.

On the first day, invited speakers took 30 minutes to present highlights and recommendations from commissioned papers on pre-determined topics (listed below). The paper presentations were followed by a short 10 minute reactor response. The audience then had the opportunity to provide input as they discuss the presentations they'd just heard. On the second day, a smaller Core Group consisting of organizers, presenters, reactors and key stakeholders considered the input from the previous day and worked to refine the overall recommendations.

In the Works

On the second day of the conference, over 150 wonderful recommendations and ideas were discussed and compiled based on the audience table discussions that took place the day before. Over the next few months these will be organized and coalesced into a manageable set of recommendations and action items that will be shared with participants. The results of the conference and the presenter's commissioned papers will be disseminated through publication and used in policy briefs and ongoing efforts to raise awareness regarding the oral health issues surrounding these vulnerable populations.

Steps have also been taken to explore the best way to continue to collaborate with key organizations as we build a coalition dedicated to improving the oral health of Vulnerable Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities.

If you should have any questions or comments at this time, please do not hesitate to contact ADA staff member, Dr. Barbara Smith, manager, Geriatric and Special Needs Populations at