The Tenth District had a very active legislative season this spring. Nebraska had a successful outcome with its fluoride initiative, and Iowa dentists had a good result with support for legislation revolving around review of insurance claims. Minnesota also wrapped up its legislative session with a study bill to examine the possibilities of an oral health care practitioner for its state. Given the national economic conditions, state governments are facing enormous budgetary pressures, and many legislatures could consider other types of providers or other workforce concepts as less expensive ways to address the dental access problems in comparison to increasing funding for Medicaid and SCHIP.
To help with this problem, the ADA is continuing its support of the Community Dental Health Coordinator program and is starting three pilot projects to assess its success in helping with access to care. Congratulations go to the many district member-dentists of all our states for their efforts on access, including work with Give Kids a Smile and the Mission of Mercy projects. There have been many successes and genuine accomplishments to advance oral health care for patients.
This report will also bring you up to date on some of the issues occurring nationally.
Diversity and Inclusion
At the April Board meeting, a panel of experts shared their perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Since 1993, all of the growth in the profession appears to come from women and minority segments of the population, and these trends are expected to accelerate in the years ahead. As well, over the past 15 years, the only ADA membership market share increase has been among African Americans. Minority membership comprises 12.8% of ADA market share, while minority groups comprise 16.5% of the total market of dentists. Suggestions to continue to increase market share included:
• reaching out to the student population to encourage them to get involved in the ADA at an early age, making a smooth transition from ASDA,
• encouraging minority students to pursue a career in dentistry, reaching out as early as high school,
• creating incentive programs which could include student loan repayment assistance and internship programs, and
• providing non-traditional students an alternate career path into dentistry and support to complete their dental education.
The Board of Trustees also received a comprehensive update on the recent TV news report from Columbus, Ohio, about an Ohio woman whose porcelain dental crown was found to contain trace elements of lead. The story has received scattered attention from news outlets across the country but has yet to break as a national story. The Ohio woman who received the crowns has made herself available for news stories as well. While the TV reporter refused our request to test the actual crown in question, the ADA has tested a number of crowns ordered from a variety of sources and, while the testing continues, results available at this time indicate that there is no release of lead from them under high temperatures or the introduction of acids. At a national level, this is not yet a priority issue for any Congressional committee or subcommittee. At the state level, point of origin legislation has been an issue in a number of states.
Foundation Grant Addresses Patient Safety
As advances in dental technology offer a greater range of treatments in dental offices, the ADA Foundation is taking a proactive step to help ensure patient safety advances are in step with tomorrow’s dental science through a $100,000 grant to the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Research Foundation, Inc. The grant will fund development of curriculum materials and advanced training to help dentists better prevent, recognize, and treat exceedingly rare complications and emergencies that may arise in a dental setting from sedation and anesthesia. The training will be a combination of electronic-mediated written materials and a laboratory practice component based on the latest scientific knowledge and techniques on the use of sedation and anesthesia, giving special emphasis to airway management and emergencies.
Also in April, the Board reviewed a report summarizing a meeting hosted by the ADA in February 2008 to facilitate discussion among licensure testing agencies to encourage changes in examinations that would promote mutual recognition of exams by state boards. The Board adopted Resolution B-23 requesting that the Council on Dental Education and Licensure review item #4 in the 1997 Agenda for Change and consider proposed amendments that reflect current ADA policies on the use of human subjects in clinical examinations and the curriculum integrated format.
Remember the River Walk
The ADA Annual Session will be held in San Antonio, Texas this October 16 through 19. There will be another excellent scientific program, an exhibit hall including the latest updates in dental materials and equipment, excellent entertainment, and a chance to meet with colleagues and friends. This year’s Distinguished Series Speakers program will feature Mikhail Gorbachev and Bob Woodward. Delegates from our district will be attending all their meetings, representing you in elections, and voting on resolutions that will affect the Association and the profession. San Antonio is a great setting for an excellent meeting along its world famous River Walk. Come see the Alamo and enjoy ADA and Texas hospitality.
Please feel free to contact Dr. Kell at the following numbers.
(563) 355-6626 (office)
(563) 355-7637 (fax)
*Dr. Kathryn Kell is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American
Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota,
and South Dakota.