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ADA, other dental groups join American Indian dentist society for D.C. summit

May 21, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Group photo of DC Summit attenees
DC Summit: From left are Keith Colson, administrative director, Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs; Dr. Winifred Booker, president, Society of American Indian Dentists; Anastasia Pittman, Oklahoma state senator, vice chair, National Caucus of Native American Legislators; Jacqueline Pata, executive director, National Congress of American Indians; Dr. Leslie E. Grant, National Dental Association; Dr. Drew Preston, past president, SAID; Dr. Ruth Bol, past president, SAID; Dr. Ivan Lugo, Hispanic Dental Association; Dr. Jane Grover, director, ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention; Jacob Collins, second-year dental student; and Dr. David Smith, past president, SAID.
Washington — American Indian oral health, enrollment in dental school and interprofessional approaches came into focus May 11 here during the Society of American Indian Dentists first spring summit.

The ADA, National Dental Association and Hispanic Dental Association also took part in the event, which was titled, Pathways to Platforms for Oral Health Progress.

During the four-hour meeting, stakeholders discussed the following:

  • Improving the oral health and overall health of American Indians/Alaska Natives.
  • Increasing the numbers of AI/AN students in U.S. dental schools.
  • Interprofessional collaboration opportunities.

Learning tools: Dr. Leslie E. Grant shows off the toothbrush carrot from the Lessons in a Lunch Box program.
The group also provided an update on current SAID outreach projects, including its Lessons in a Lunch Box program that has provided more than 55,000 lunch boxes to children in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

The society also has launched the "Middle School to Dental School" program aimed to inspire more AI/AN children to become dentists.

"We want AI/AN youth to be in the freshman class of all 66 U.S. dental schools," said Dr. Winifred Booker, president, Society of American Indian Dentists, and a descendant of the Piscataway tribe. "If we can do that, we've got 264 dentists in four years, 2,640 in 10 years."

Anastasia Pittman, a state senator from Oklahoma and a member of the Seminole tribe, was among the invited speakers.

"How can I help? Let me be a resource," said Sen. Pittman, who urged the society to reach out to their local representatives on all matters of oral health, particularly those who are part of the National Congress of American Indians. "If you're not healthy, you're not going to work."