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Action for Dental Health: Long-term care initiative launched

December 09, 2013

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—Dr. Merle Nunemaker was quick to report the launch of ADA's Long-term Care Dental Campaign, an Action for Dental Health Initiative.

“The ADA hosted its first long-term care conference in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15 with representatives from eight states (including Missouri), meeting to discuss formation or expansion of programs to provide oral health care for the elderly in their respective states,” the Missouri Dental Association president said in his report published in the November/December MDA Focus magazine.

Noting his participation in the meeting, Dr. Nunemaker said that he “attended in order to learn more about the initiative and, specifically, to gather information related to the MDA House of Delegates Resolution 2013H-11, Incurred Medical Expense.”

There is growing interest in the states in the oral health of seniors and dental care in nursing homes. Kevin Robertson, the Kansas Dental Association executive director who also participated in the ADA-convened meeting, cited another example of state efforts to characterize and quantify the oral health status of elders in the report Elder Smiles 2012 A Survey of the Oral Health of Kansas Seniors Living in Nursing Facilities.

Other participants included Dr. Terry Buckenheimer, ADA 17th District trustee and president of the Florida Dental Association; Dr. Brian Soltys, president of the Illinois State Dental Society; Dr. Richard Rogers, president-elect of the Maryland State Dental Association; Dr. Frank Iuorno, Jr., Virginia; Dr. Glenn Hemberger, past president Kansas Dental Association; Frank McLaughlin, executive director Maryland State Dental Association; Tom Kochheiser, Michigan Dental Association marketing and public information director; Robert Vande Merwe, executive director of the Idaho Healthcare Association; Casey Ann Stoutamire, Florida Dental Association government affairs; and ADA staff.

Drs. Michael Helgeson and Janet Yellowitz represented the National Elder Care Advisory Committee, which advises the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations about policies, programs and other activities to improve the oral health of older adults.

“We will be incorporating your suggestions into the materials being developed for use by dental associations wishing to launch long-term care initiatives in their states,” Barbara Smith, Ph.D., dental hygienist, and CAPIR manager, geriatric and special needs populations, told participants in a post-meeting “thank you for participating” message.

The ADH long-term care initiative encourages dentist participation in nursing home care through local community outreach, community education and training to work in long-term care. A short-term goal: At least 10 state dental associations committed to implementing a long-term program to improve the oral health of nursing home residents by 2015.

For information on the long-term care and other initiatives of Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference visit