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ADA, AADR seek $10 million for 2020 military dental research

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington— The ADA and American Association of Dental Research are asking Congress for $10 million for military dental research in 2020.

In April 9 letters to Reps. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., chair, House Defense Appropriations Committee, and Ken Calvert, R-Calif., ranking member, the two organizations asked lawmakers to keep the funding levels at $10 million — which is the same as the current funding — so that federal dental programs can continue providing unique research centered on head and facial trauma and oral disease.

“Over 42% of injured service members have had wounds to the head and face. In the last decade alone, over 4,000 service members experienced facial injuries,” wrote ADA and AADR. “These injuries cause significant physical and emotional challenges for the service member, often resulting in difficulties breathing, eating and speaking.”

The letter also explained that military dental researchers are tasked with finding better methods to address infections that are drug resistant. 

“Solving this problem would not only benefit wounded soldiers, but would also have a tremendous impact on all American citizens,” they wrote, noting that each year about 2 million people become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria and some 23,000 people die from those infections.   

For active duty military, existing dental disease can prevent them from being able to carry out their duties. 

“Previously, Congress provided research funding to develop an anti-plaque chewing gum that has proven to significantly reduce bacteria that causes oral disease,” noting that the research is in the process of advancing to the next phase of development. 

“Our organizations strongly believe that the funding for the [military dental research] program is worthy and justifiable, even in today’s difficult budgetary environment, since the program has a direct and lasting impact on saving lives and improving the quality of life for our military personnel,” the letter concluded.