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Dental groups request increased funding for CDC, HRSA, NIDCR

February 20, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA, American Dental Education Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Association for Dental Research are urging Congress to increase funding for a number of programs important to dentistry and oral health.

In letters sent Feb. 20 to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Appropriations, the groups asked lawmakers to prioritize the nation's oral health as they prepare the 2018 Labor-HHS-Education-Appropriations bill.

"Dental access, prevention, care and research initiatives are leading to improved oral health across the country," the groups wrote. "The modest programmatic increases we are requesting, together with the continuation of programs the president has proposed to eliminate, will allow more Americans to have access to improved oral health care."

For the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Oral Health, the groups are asking for $20 million, up from $18 million in 2017, in order to support state health departments in their missions to "help reduce oral health disparities through evidence-based community preventive interventions and access to clinical preventive services."

The first draft of President Donald J. Trump's budget lowered the CDC's oral health budget to $17 million.

In response, the groups pointed out that CDC's investments in programs such as community water fluoridation, school-based sealant programs and oral health literacy have "helped to significantly reduce the incidence of oral disease among children and adults."

For the Title VII general and pediatric dental residency programs within the Health Resources and Services Administration, the groups asked for a total of $40.7 million, up from $36.7 million in 2017. All Title VII programs were left off the president's budget for 2018.

The dental groups urged lawmakers to keep them in the final appropriations bill noting, that "these programs provide primary oral health care services in some of the nation's most remote and underserved locations" and said they disagreed with the Trump administration's claims that the programs "have not demonstrated a significant impact on the effectiveness of the oral health workforce.

The groups pointed out that the 2017 HRSA budget explained that in 2015-2016, oral health training programs helped train 3,835 dental and dental hygiene students in pre-doctoral training, 435 primary care dental residents and fellows, and 946 dental faculty members in faculty development. They stressed that recent grants for faculty loan repayment "are critical in recruiting and retaining the dental faculty needed to train future generations of dentists."

Finally, the groups urged appropriators to increase funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to $452 million, up from $425.7 million in 2017. The president's budget earmarked $320.7 for 2018.

"Investments in NIDCR-funded research during the past half-century have led to improvements in oral health for millions of Americans through areas such as community water fluoridation; the use of dental sealants to reduce cavities in children; the developing work to monitor oral and overall health using oral biodevices; and emerging opportunities to assess the efficacy of a human papilloma virus vaccine for oral and pharyngeal cancers. Any cuts would undermine this research and advancements to improve oral health for all Americans," they concluded.

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