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CDC retains oral health division

Washington—CDC officials told the Association Nov. 10 that the agency will retain its Division of Oral Health, which had been slated for an effective downgrading by yearend as a branch of another division.

“The restoration of oral health to a division of the CDC clearly indicates the importance the HHS and CDC are placing on oral health,” Dr. William R. Calnon, Association president, told the ADA News. “The importance of oral health to overall well being is a fact and this move validates their belief in this.

“This is a culmination of hard work on the part of the ADA leadership and professional staff, many other stakeholders in the oral health arena, congressional and agency supporters and basic grassroots believers in the importance of oral health,” Dr. Calnon said.

The ADA strongly objected to the proposed reorganization in a Jan. 11, 2011 letter to the administration’s top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We strongly urge you to maintain the CDC’s Division of Oral Health as a separate entity within the chronic disease center so that they can continue to improve the oral health of Americans from inception to old age,” said the Association’s elected and staff leadership.

This was a second attempt by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaders to downgrade the status of oral health within the HHS agency. An aroused Association, professional and congressional allies opposed and reversed a 1996 plan to transfer oral health activities and subsume them in a separate division. The parent HHS department later agreed to preserve the oral health focus at CDC and restored divisional status in 1997.