May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3

 
 
 
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A Message from your President

The Dental Home Revisited...Again

March 2016 Volume LI Number 2

 

December was a busy time for us beyond the holiday season activities. It began with a media tour in New York where I had the opportunity to meet with several news outlets, including the New York Times. These interviews were held at the respective offices of the publications, and included AAPD Public Relations Senior Manager Erika Hoeft as well as our Weber Shandwick team and me. We discussed many pediatric dental issues, but first and foremost was the Dental Home concept. Not surprisingly, the age one dental visit was virtually unheard of among the individuals we met. The reactions were varied from "do children have teeth at that age?" to "how do you keep them still for the appointment?"

Needless to say, we gave them plenty of information on the Dental Home and the importance of the age one dental visit. This experience gave me the chance to reflect upon a topic that is one of the top priorities of the Academy, and yet barely raises a blip on the radar of other stakeholders in pediatrics. I guess for some of us, this is what we preach every day so it seems to be second nature. But when you speak to the public, there isn’t a sense of awareness, much less acceptance of our AAPD recommendation. This should concern us and create specific activities that we need to do to change the culture for the age one visit.

In our practice, we try to cover our bases by educating our colleagues and legislators, going directly into the communities with the message of the Dental Home, teaching infant oral health care in our hospitals that deliver babies, and getting our families to be ambassadors for our message. Given the fact that the definition of the Dental Home has been part of our literature since the 1990’s, and we developed the concept jointly with the American Academy of Pediatrics, you’d think it would be an easy task to get everybody on board. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been.

Far from dismayed, we embrace the challenge that lies ahead of us. Our Academy has never been in a better position to communicate with our stakeholders, either in D.C., New York or in your hometown. Our ability to reach the audience we need to reach is at an all-time high. The experience in New York provided the opportunity for us to explain to media our unique experiences and perspective for the age one visit. I see this as a huge opportunity to effect change. There are several other media engagements in early 2016, especially during National Children’s Dental Health Month. We’ll be delivering our message loud and clear. 

Along with Congressional Liaison Heber Simmons Jr.’s efforts, the growing number of public policy advocates has allowed us unprecedented access to more and more policy makers. These relations are critical to our success in getting our message to those who are in charge of programs and assets. From the successes we’ve had in securing more slots for residents, faculty loan repayment, etc.; we should be able to have equal success in making the age one visit a cornerstone of any federal policy for pediatric dentistry.

If we want to realistically approach a cavity-free generation, it has to start somewhere.
I can’t think of a better place than in our Dental Homes. 

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