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Thousands help ADA celebrate 155 years of service to public, profession

October 20, 2014

By James Berry

Photo of Pres Bush and Dr Norman
Presidential: George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, fields questions asked by member dentists and posed by then-ADA President Charles Norman. The past U.S. president was this year's distinguished speaker. Photos by EZ Event Photography
San Antonio
— "Ladies and gentlemen and fellow dental professionals, welcome to San Antonio, ADA 2014 — America's Dental Meeting," said then-ADA President Charles Norman III, addressing a capacity crowd gathered Oct. 9 at the Alamodome for the Opening General Session and Distinguished Speaker Series, the official kick off of ADA's annual meeting.

This year's distinguished speaker was a favorite son of the Lone Star State, George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States and founder of the George W. Bush Foundation.

Presenting the 2014 Distinguished Speaker Series was Church & Dwight, makers of ARM & HAMMER, Spinbrush and ORAJEL oral care products. Representing the company was Jim Craige, chairman and chief executive officer, who introduced President Bush.  
Photo of Drs. Norman and Damazo
Humanitarian: Dr. Raymond Damazo, right, accepts the 2014 ADA Humanitarian Award from then-ADA President Charles Norman. Dr. Damazo thanked his wife, Gail, and the ADA for their support.
Photo of Dr. Feinberg
On deck: Dr. Maxine Feinberg, then-ADA president-elect, greets the Opening General Session crowd.
The morning program included remarks by Dr. Maxine Feinberg, then ADA president-elect, and presentation of the 2014 Humanitarian Award to Dr. Raymond S. Damazo.

Dr. Feinberg talked about the importance of dental health care, especially for children, and how it ties into overall health. "We all know that the best solution to dental disease is stopping it before it starts," she said. "Prevention and education are critical."

She talked about The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition of more than 30 organizations that the ADA joined in 2012. The group has worked with the Ad Council to produce the Kids Healthy Mouth campaign, a series of ads aimed at educating parents and children on the importance of proper brushing. Two of the kid-friendly TV ads were showcased for the Alamodome crowd.

Dr. Damazo, the Humanitarian Award recipient, was honored for nearly 20 years of providing free dental care and education to the needy in remote villages in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

"Unlike a recipient at the Academy Awards ceremony receiving an Oscar, I have only two people to thank," he said, accepting the award from Dr. Norman. He went on the thank his wife, Gail, who he said has been the "100 percent backbone" of their efforts together in Kenya, and also the ADA for its "generosity and recognition" of his work.

President Bush fielded questions gathered from ADA members and posed by Dr. Norman. The two men sat across from one another in easy chairs in what might be described as a casual setting — if it weren't for the microphones, the lights, the cameras and a crowd of onlookers estimated at about 6,000.

The past president shared memories and experiences from his years in office and from his more recent private life, including his very public foray into the world of art. He paints.

Overall, the morning's program was a celebration of dentistry's contributions to dental health and of the ADA's contributions to dentistry.