May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3

 
 
 
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It’s a Global World After All

November 2012 Volume XLVIII Number 6

 

Yesterday, I went to downtown Seattle to visit with the consul general of South Korea. We had an excellent conversation about the many opportunities for interaction between the United States and South Korea. We specifically focused on pediatric dentistry. I explained my role as president of the AAPD and all that we are about and what we do. I then mentioned the fact that the biennial international pediatric dentistry meeting (IAPD) will convene is Seoul next June. I was immediately impressed with his knowledge of the dental profession in Korea and specifically about pediatric dentistry. That enabled us to discuss a long list of possibilities for in- ternational cooperation – a list that is similar to my agenda in general for the many opportunities before us in interacting with pediatric dentistry colleagues from abroad.

Having visited numerous countries and having lectured to or oth- erwise interacted with scientists and clinicians in our field in dozens of countries around the world, I have seen a similar passion to that which we feel about caring for childrens oral health. The cultures, the diets and social environments and issues may be different, but the disease pattern we face the growing crisis of early childhood caries is indeed an international problem. And its getting worse. As developing countries (not the ones to which I refer in my visits) bring more fermentable carbohydrates into their diets, there will be a paral- lel increase in caries rates. This had been observed in many instances and will be repeated if nothing changes. Colleagues around the world share this concern.

And there is a growing body of science developing which dis- cusses from many differing perspectives how we might manage ECC and how we might prevent it in the first place. But solutions to public health problems of this magnitude which might deal with the complex and multifactorial disease of ECC won’t arrive soon or easily. Yet, it is clear that we must figure out a better way to share all discoveries in the field early on, and to share clinical application of these discoveries and their effects on our patients everywhere.

We also need to share our clinical science that extends from the body of literature. Whereas we often find deficits in the evidence base for much of what we deem important in clinical practice, wemust extend our reach for evidence across the globe. By fostering relationships with pediatric dentistry colleagues across the globe both in academics and in practice, we can better shore up the evidence base and more precisely identify where there are holes.
 

One of the important roles of the AAPD is to be the recognized leader in oral health for children. As the recognized leader, we cannot limit our influence to our own borders. The world is not flat, and there is much out there that we may miss that is of great importance if we don’t proactively attempt to encounter it.

Therefore, we will convene a very important new task force this year. The Task Force on Global Oral Health will take a look at the many opportunities available to our organization regarding syner- gistic and inclusive efforts in improving our mission. We will look for big ideas that will engage our international colleagues and open us up to improved input on new discoveries, new technology and new and improved ways of clinical practice. We will identify a few big ideas to improve the scenario evolving as the ECC crisis forges on in an uncontained fashion. I do not know what recommendations will be brought forward, but a team of experts representing pediatric dentistry around the world, and consisting of our own members who practice in the US (receiving intake from stakeholders around the world) will provide the best ways to make the biggest difference.

Other organizations have faced similar opportunities, have charged ahead by seizing them, and have benefited greatly. I am absolutely convinced that within whatever the team recommends, there will be outstanding means to achieve even greater success in our vision to better manage and improve the oral health of all children, per our mission.

Next years’ AAPD Annual Session in Orlando has a tagline, "Its a Global World After All." I look forward to bringing to your atten- tion at that time some great new ideas developed by the Task Force on Global Oral Health regarding how we can broaden our reach, expand our connectivity, and thereby improve our influence on that which we care about so deeply.

Tell me what you think along the way, and please share your thoughts on this effort as well as the many other important agenda items before us. We have an amazingly powerful organization and an equally powerful voice. We need to continually and proactively reach out to make sure we are as inclusive as possible in our information gathering leading to all that we do, so we can always be at the cutting edge of things, with all important information and great ideas at our disposal.

 

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