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Making dental-medical history

ADA, ADA Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics collaborate in training session for pediatricians on oral health

Elk Grove Village, Ill.—The American Academy of Pediatrics, ADA and ADA Foundation and have teamed up for the first-ever national oral health initiative for pediatricians.

The historic session marked the first time the AAP, ADA and ADAF have officially collaborated, and the two-day event, held Dec. 5-6, 2008, was the first of several training sessions stemming from the ADAF's "Working Together for Oral Health" grant to inspire pediatrician oral health advocates and assist them in identifying the oral health needs of children.

The grant, which provides up to $100,000 annually for three years, is particularly aimed to benefit children ages 0-3 that visit pediatricians for well child visits. Many of these at-risk infants and toddlers develop dental problems before they see a dentist for the first time.

Said Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, president of the ADA Foundation, "Children are our most valuable natural resource. It is an honor for the Foundation to join forces with the AAP and the ADA and amplify our important efforts to improve the lives and oral health of infants and toddlers."

The program was held at AAP headquarters and sought to facilitate pediatrician and dentist collaboration at the national, state and local levels. At this first session, participants learned how to conduct oral health risk assessments, including screening exams, received tips for teaching families about oral health and prevention, and stressed the importance of referring children to a dental home.

"I think this is a great step at working with physicians in a cooperative manner for the benefit of our mutual patients," said Dr. Leon E. Stanislav, member of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, who spoke to the group about the various fluoride modalities and the rationale for their use during the summit.

"It is particularly important that we find ways to prevent disease such as early childhood caries. There is no better venue than working with pediatricians who see these kids first to assess their oral health and find them a dental home."

Dr. Stanislav stressed that spreading the word that children "need assessment, anticipatory guidance, appropriate intervention, and the skill and service of a dentist including general dentists," is what the conference was all about.

"I call upon my general dentist colleagues to communicate with their local pediatricians and work together to provide that dental home," he said.

For its part, the AAP has recognized the rise of oral disease in young children and oral health as a key part of its strategic plan.

Said Suzanne Boulter, M.D., one of the AAP keynote speakers, "Pediatricians and dentists working together can decrease the prevalence of the most common infectious disease in childhood—dental caries. Collaborations are crucial to improving both prevention of caries with information about good diet and oral hygiene practices for families and referral of patients to a dental home.

The ADAF has given generous grant support to the American Academy of Pediatrics which is training pediatricians in oral health risk assessment and referral to a dental home by the recommended 1 year of age. By working together, medical and dental professionals should be able to reverse the increase in early childhood caries."

The conference also provided the physician participants with a management plan, including prevention interventions such as appropriate use of fluoride varnish. The ADAF grant will also fund on-site training at large pediatric clinics and hospitals over the next two years.

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