November 2020 Volume LV Number 6

 
 
 
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A Message from Your President

November 2020 Volume LV Number 6

Staying Focused on Increasing Access to Dental Care for Children
 
We have all witnessed so much change the past several months. With all this change, much of us have had the time to refocus on what is important. We have spent time at home with our families, missed our friends and been grateful for our health and happy to practice dentistry again. With everything changing, the only thing that has remained constant is that children need access to dental care. This has become more apparent than ever. In March, many of us were under stay at home orders and were asked to limit our practices to urgent/ emergency care only. During the summer, we opened our offices and expanded treatment options. This fall, we got busy doing what we do best—taking care of children. Many of us quickly found out that delaying dental treatment has its consequences. Children showed up to our offices in pain and teeth that could have been restored were now being extracted. During this time, we kept hearing that oral health was elective care. Our operating cases were being delayed or cancelled due to the elective nature of the case. Many of us are now having difficulties accessing operating room time with many hospitals deciding not to accommodate dental cases. The Surgeon in Chief at the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital stated it best when referring to dental operating cases, "These are essential cases that are just being postponed for a few weeks. These are not elective cases. Yes. Dentistry is essential care."
 
The American Dental Association’s Ad Interim Policy on Dentistry As Essential Health Care states: "Dentistry is an essential health care service because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral dis- eases, which can affect systemic health. The term "Essential Dental Care" be defined as any care that prevents and eliminates infection, preserves the structure and function of teeth as well as the orofacial hard and soft tissues, and that this term be used in lieu of the terms "Emergency Dental Care" and "Elective Dental Care" when communicating with legislators, regulators, policy makers and the media in defining care that should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations, if any limitations are proposed."
 
As members of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), we are advocates for children’s oral health. If there was ever a time where this was most important—that time is now! Our children are being neglected by a system that is failing them. Whether it be poor reimbursement rates by the Medicaid program or allowing hospitals and surgery centers to limit dental cases, these barriers hurt the children the most. For- tunately, we can do something about it. The AAPD works to advocate policies, guidelines and programs that promote optimal oral health and oral health care for children. We work closely with legislators and government agencies, and other professional associations. AAPD advocacy efforts strengthen the voice of pediatric den- tistry on behalf of children’s oral health at the national and state level. We are well represented by our Congres- sional Liaisons (Dr. Heber Simmons, Jr, Dr. Jade Miller and Dr. Warren Brill), but they cannot do it alone. We are only as good as our members. We need you to be oral health advocates for children. You need to be involved in making the system work for our children. Please get involved with the AAPD, the AAPD Foundation, the AAPD PAC, make contact with your U.S. representative or senator when requested by the AAPD to discuss your con- cerns about access to dental care (sign up to join the AAPD Grass Roots network1), and get involved with your state AAPD Public Policy Advocate and state dental association. Together, we can provide optimal oral health for children.
 
1To sign up go to: https://www.aapd.org/advocacy/grassroots-advocacy/advocacy-tools/
 

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