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Action for Dental Health campaign expands in 2014

December 08, 2014

By Craig Palmer

 Action for Dental Health


Rep KellyRep. Kelly 

Washington —
The ADA-backed Action for Dental Health Act offered April 3 by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., picked up 43 bipartisan cosponsors over the last eight months of the 113th Congress.

Though the bill dies when Congress adjourns, Rep. Kelly will prioritize oral health as she chairs the Congressional Black Caucus health care task force in the 114th Congress. 

Congressional attention to oral health legislation is a recent chapter in the ADH story of grassroots, community-based activities to improve access to care.

The ADA launched Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, a nationwide campaign addressing America’s dental health crisis, on May 15, 2013.

However, action for dental health extends through time and geography and includes the following Action for Dental Health stories more fully described at

Fourteen years ago, Dr. Vincent J. Monticciolo, who practices in Florida, founded Dentistry From The Heart, a worldwide nonprofit dedicated to providing free dental care to people who would not otherwise receive it.
Fast forward to Dr. Scott Watterson, of Michigan, who offered Dentistry From The Heart events in March 2013 and in August 2014 with his father, Dr. Richard Watterson, and intends to host a third one with a date to be determined.

Dr. Ed Griggs visited Honduras on mission trips where he treated patients with severe dental issues.

But a Mission of Mercy charitable care event in rural Wise, Virginia, organized by the Virginia Dental Association, “opened my eyes to the reality of the dental crisis in America.” Dr. Griggs sold his suburban Richmond private practice and now serves community health center patients on rural Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“When I started practicing, I thought that long-term care had to enter the world of dentistry,” said Dr. Sarah Dirks who started Geriatric Dental Group of South Texas after 18 years of teaching at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “Since I’ve been in this field so long, I’ve changed my approach. I now realize that dentistry has to enter the long-term care world.”

The ADA recently introduced online training with a four-minute video at for dentists interested in providing care for nursing home residents. “Dentistry in Long-term Care: Creating Pathways to Success” is an eight-module, self-paced course that highlights long-term care delivery models, regulatory and legal compliance, creating and organizing an oral health program, working with complex patients, financial considerations in nursing homes, establishing an environment where effective daily mouth care occurs and accessing scientific literature.

Visit the Action for Dental Health Web page for more on these and other stories showcasing local and state activity to increase access to dental care. The Association invites you to share your ADH story by contacting Rhys Saunders in the ADA Public Affairs Department at