New FDI executive director
Dr. David Alexander draws on dental practice, military dentistry, public health and industry experience to lead global organization
Dr. David Alexander, the FDI's new executive director, encourages ADA members to become more aware of and involved in the FDI as it reaches out globally to improve oral health for all people.
"The FDI is an association of over 135 national dental associations and about 60 other related organizations worldwide," said Dr. Alexander. "FDI really is the global voice of dentistry and for the promotion of oral health."
FDI programs span the globe, promoting public health and oral health, continuing education and advocacy—especially targeting those who need improved oral health the most.
"Today, 80 percent of all dental care is given to 20 percent of the population," said Dr. Alexander. "We need to deliver oral health to the rest and put emphasis on advocating for global public health. The FDI promotes and advocates for oral health in an arena where the public struggles to speak for themselves."
Dr. Alexander's background in general dental practice, military dentistry, public health and the worldwide dental and pharmaceutical industry, he said, has prepared him to help the FDI carry out its global vision of leading the world to optimal oral health.
Early on in his career as a dentist in the British Navy, Dr. Alexander was posted in the Southeast Asian nation of Brunei.
"I was one of the first dentists to go to Brunei, where there was so much dental disease," said Dr. Alexander. "Even though it was one of the smallest, wealthiest nations in the world, it was a challenge to work in a population that had never before received dental care. I felt unprepared at the time to do so. I had never seen, let alone managed, nursing bottle caries. Wrapping infants in blankets to remove their abscessed teeth was something never discussed as I was being prepared for the assignment."
Inspired by his experience in Brunei, Dr. Alexander decided to pursue graduate training in dental public health. His research studied the effects of diet and stress on oral health. He continued his research at the National Naval Dental Center in Bethesda, Md., where he was on loan by the British Navy.
He also completed a residency at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research before leaving the Navy for a position at Block Drug Co. Inc., now owned by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. Prior to joining the FDI, Dr. Alexander served as the senior dentist in a global strategic development role for GSK.
"At GSK, I worked with many talented and very innovative individuals from very diverse disciplines—from bench scientists to behavior change gurus—and served as a conduit of communication worldwide between the company and the profession," he said. "I got to know an awful lot about world dental health. I worked closely