Volume 87 - Number 1

January - February 2008
Disaster Training Enters the 21st Century

Atraumatic Tooth Preparation

Atypical Odontalgia: A Review

The Dean

Classified Ads
MDA News

ADA Report

Including, But Not Limited To...

Report from the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association

Kathryn Kell, D.D.S.*

The New Year has begun with ups and downs in the temperature and a variety of weather patterns across our Midwestern area of the country. The ADA also has a variety of issues and information, and there should be something for everyone in this report.

Alaska Access Summit
In November, several District Ten members attended the recent American Indian/Alaska Native Oral Health Access Summit in New Mexico, which brought together representatives from the American Dental Association and constituent societies; the Indian Health Service (IHS); national, regional, and local Native health care organizations; the Society of American Indian Dentists; and Tribal Nations. Goals for the summit included increasing a spirit of collaboration among the stakeholders, and identifying and discussing innovative approaches to address oral health disparities and access for the American Indian/Alaska Native people, among others. All ADA participants agreed that the impact of this summit should have a lasting effect on the ADA as it approaches access issues. The consensus is that the event was a tremendous success, bringing together participants who have divergent opinions about how to improve the oral health of these population groups.

Dentistry and Medicine 2008
The mega-issue discussion at the ADA Board in December was “Dentistry’s Relation with Medicine and What the ADA Can Do to Shape the Future”. Most of the big issues facing dentistry today - the role of the dentist, prospects for health care reform, the impact of medical research on oral health, and links to chronic health problems - converge into a discussion about the future of the dental profession and its relationship with the broader health care arena.

Dr. Clark Stanford of the University of Iowa looked at the issue from the perspective of how dentistry might have to adapt to the culture and delivery methods of physicians. He focused on risk assessment; i.e., how physicians routinely balance outcomes with well-known trials, always making a risk/benefit calculation before pursuing a course of action.

Dr. Michael Glick, managing editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association, approached the issue from the perspective of dentists giving assistance to and sharing knowledge with physicians. He noted the importance of dentists taking ownership, as leaders, concerning causal relationships between oral health issues such as periodontal disease and its relationship to chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, and developing policies to steer patients toward further medical examinations. If dentists do not accept this role, he warned, others may step into the breach and try to dictate a new relationship between dentists and physicians.

Dr. David Sarrett of Virginia Commonwealth University, while providing a wealth of demographic data about the changing face of the medical professions, noted that the greatest impact dentistry could have on the broader health care industry would be to help shape a new system of preventive health care. The dental profession, Sarrett noted, is already well respected for knowing how to deliver preventive care, something physicians are not as effective at doing.

The Board will continue to examine this issue, and viewed the presentations and ensuing discussions as a means of identifying long-term problems that must be dealt with extensively, with an eye on influencing outcomes to the greatest benefit of dentists and dental patients.

Personal Boundaries in the Dental Workplace
The ADA Board also agreed to begin an initiative in 2008 to educate members about new guidelines from the American Association of Dental Examiners regarding sexual boundaries in the dental workplace. There will be more information as the year progresses to help dentists become fully aware of the new professional conduct standards before they are implemented by state dental boards.

Dental Accreditation Update
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) task force is currently in the information-gathering stage, and having completed face-to-face testimony from various stakeholder organizations, is conducting a wide-ranging electronic survey of stakeholders. It will soon move on to telephone interviews, focus groups, and benchmarking (comparing accreditation with other professions) before making its recommendations to the Board.

Ethics and Professionalism in Dental Schools
The Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL) and Council of Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA) met in November to develop recommendations for advancing ethics and professionalism in dental schools. The final report, expected in time for the 2008 Annual Session, will look at what other professional disciplines are doing to accomplish common core requirements that might aid dental schools in developing common discipline modalities. The Board passed a resolution supporting their actions and funding ADA participation in a joint subcommittee meeting.

New Brochure Available
As per the directive of the 2007 House of Delegates, the Board approved production of a new restorative brochure and fact sheet to be posted on ada.org and communicated to members in January 2008.  This should be useful in dental practice to inform patients of the materials available for use in dental procedures. Other information on materials continues to be available as supplements to the Journal of the American Dental Association on professional product reviews.

These and many other issues will keep us busy through out the year. As usual, please feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Dr. Kell may be reached at the following numbers:
(563) 355-6626 (office)
(563) 355-7637 (fax)
kellk@ada.org (e-mail)

*Dr. Kathryn Kell is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota,
and South Dakota.

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