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Members of Congress raise oral health awareness during NCDHM

March 01, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, several legislators helped put the spotlight on oral health in February.

Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Brian Babin, R-Texas, Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a Dear Colleague letter to every member of House, urging their fellow lawmakers to support issues important to oral health. All of the signees are dentists and ADA members with the exception of Rep. Cummings. Reps. Simpson and Cummings are the co-chairs of the Oral Health Caucus, which is dedicated to increase awareness of oral health care and emerging dental research.

“Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S. The impact of untreated decay goes far beyond oral health,” they wrote. “That is why the American Dental Association has dedicated February as National Children’s Dental Health Month. This is an opportunity that brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, health care providers and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.”

Rep. Simpson also submitted a statement for the record on Feb. 25.

“We are glad to bring awareness to promote good oral health for children,” he said. “Tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S. The impact of not treating decay can lead to other bad outcomes beyond just oral health.”

During his statement, Rep. Simpson praised the ADA Foundation for the Give Kids A Smile initiative, which is a cornerstone of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

“Since this program has started, volunteers have graciously provided services to over 5.5 million kids across the country, and to all 50 states as well. They have truly made a huge impact in their communities and improved the oral health of so many children,” he said.

Rep. Simpson’s message was echoed by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill. The two legislators spearheaded the passing of the Action for Health Dental Health Act, which became law in 2018.

“Ensuring that children and adults receive accessible, quality oral health care should remain a priority for all of us. Thank you for supporting dentistry and the oral health of our nation’s most vulnerable population,” Rep. Kelly said in a Feb. 27 statement on the House floor.

In addition to Rep. Simpson, Reps. Van Drew and Gosar also spoke on the importance of oral health.

“This year’s slogan for National Children’s Dental Health Month is 'Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile.’ If we as a society take these preventative measures to keep our children healthy, we can ultimately reduce health care costs and give our future generations the confidence they need in life. Please join me in raising awareness about

the importance of oral health," Rep. Gosar told the House on Feb. 27.

“Ensuring that children and adults get quality and accessible oral health care should remain a priority for everyone throughout the year,” said Rep. Van Drew.

For more information about National Children’s Dental Health Month, visit ADA.org/NCDHM.

Read the Dear Colleagues letter here.