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ADA, ADAF join with AAP to train pediatricians as oral health advocates

Elk Grove Village, Ill.—In an effort to decrease childhood caries, the ADA, ADA Foundation and American Academy of Pediatrics once again teamed up for oral health advocate training for pediatricians.

This was the second of three Chapter Advocate Training On Oral Health sessions the Foundation has funded via a grant to the AAP. The "train the trainer" program was held at AAP headquarters and sought to instruct and inspire pediatrician oral health advocates at the national, state and local levels and assist them in identifying the oral health needs of babies and toddlers being seen for well-child visits.

During the Nov. 13-14 event, pediatricians learned how to conduct oral health risk assessments, including oral screenings, received tips for teaching families about oral health and prevention, and were instructed on the importance of connecting children and families with a dental home. During the "hands on" portion of the training, each of the 19 attendees was paired with a dentist who demonstrated how to perform oral assessments of the children, including application of fluoride varnish.

"It is remarkable to see the energy and excitement about oral health exhibited by these devoted pediatricians," said ADAF President Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni. "That this ADAF-funded education took place in the headquarters of one of our nation's premier medical organizations is a source of great pride for the ADA Foundation."

The AAP received the ADAF's "Working Together for Oral Health" grant in 2008, which provides up to $100,000 annually for three years. AAP's aim is to develop a cadre of pediatrician oral health advocates, and that organization is also carrying out on-site training at large pediatric clinics and hospitals. The ultimate goal for the interprofessional collaboration is to reverse the trend of early childhood caries.

Said Suzanne Boulter, M.D., a New Hampshire pediatrician, "One of the nice things about the training is that there was so much one-on-one time. We tried to empower the doctors to spread the word to others in their AAP chapters, and I think we accomplished that. By the end of the training, they had a solid basis of facts and plans for their activities."

As part of its contribution to the training, the ADA provided a state-specific resource list for each pediatrician, including contact information for the state dental association, state health department, state oral health coalition, state safety net services and other pertinent services. There were also a few 2008 "graduate" oral health champions invited back to share their experiences with the group.

"In their presentations we saw the new beginning, which the ADA and AAP envisioned," said Dr. Leon Stanislav, a member of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations who spoke on fluoride modalities. "They overflowed with enthusiasm as they described to the new class how they implemented what they had learned from our training. As one of the faculty, it was hard not to feel a little pride as we witnessed the new teachers telling the students how much they were going to gain over the next couple of days. There is no doubt we will have an impact on early childhood caries as dentists and pediatricians work together treating children under 3."

Dr. Boulter agreed that the previous advocates really inspired the group.

"It was amazing," she said. "One pediatrician got so fired up, he trained dozens of people in a state that was just starting to see Medicaid reimbursements. Another took pediatric residents and put them to work, calling dental offices to see who took Medicaid."

The conference also provided participants with a management plan, including prevention interventions such as appropriate use of fluoride varnish.

"While CATOOH is proceeding on track, there are still many things to improve," Dr. Stanislav said. "We must strive to develop more awareness in our dental and pediatrician colleagues, we must lobby for better reimbursements, and we must ensure the torch is passed along."

For more information about ADAF programs, visit www.adafoundation.org.