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ADA supports oral health literacy legislation

HR 4678 calls for HRSA to develop a nationwide campaign

November 19, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The American Dental Association is applauding Congress for introducing legislation aimed at improving oral health literacy.

In a Nov. 15 letter to the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Tony Ca╠ürdenas, D-Calif., ADA President Chad P. Gehani and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin thanked the lawmaker for introducing HR 4678, the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act.

“As an organization dedicated to empowering our members to achieve optimal oral health for all, the ADA strongly believes in the importance of oral health literacy,” Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin wrote.

The Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act would authorize the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a nationwide oral health literacy campaign across all of the agency’s relevant divisions: community health centers, oral health workforce programs, maternal and child health programs, Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, and rural health programs. The campaign, which would be designed to address vulnerable populations, would promote literacy and awareness programs that are evidence-based and focused on oral health care education, including education on prevention of oral disease such as early childhood caries, periodontal disease and oral cancer.

“The ADA applauds HRSA for their commitment to oral health and believes the integration of oral health literacy would help strengthen their efforts,” the letter concluded. “Evidence-based prevention strategies that are focused on vulnerable populations are key to ensuring good oral health for all Americans. It is for those reasons that we endorsed appropriations report language in the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill on the oral health literacy campaign, and we are proud to support H.R. 4678, the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act.”

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.