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