AAPHD Principles for Health Reform

February 19, 2009

The American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) advocates that health reform should be a top domestic policy priority for the new Administration and Congress. Reform of the oral health system must be included in any broader health reform. Oral health reform should incorporate the following principles and contribute to the following outcomes in order to assure the health of all Americans, including those with special needs and other underserved populations:

  • As highlighted in the Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health in America, oral health and general health are inextricably connected. Any reform of the U.S. health care system must include reform of the oral health system.
  • The primary goal of oral health reform should be optimal oral health of all Americans and the elimination of oral health disparities.
  • High quality and affordable personal oral health services should be available for all Americans.
  • Federal, state and local dental public health programs must receive adequate funding to ensure they can provide the core public health functions of assessment, policy development, and assurance, as described by the Institute of Medicine and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors.
  • Oral health reform should include greater investment in effective, evidence-based community preventive services, including but not limited to community water fluoridation, community and school based dental sealant and fluoride programs, mouth guard programs, and tobacco control.
  • There should be adequate resources devoted to training the dental public health workforce, including support for graduate education in public health and incentives for state and local governments to employ appropriately credentialed dental public health personnel.
  • Communities of color are severely underrepresented among the nation's dentists and dental hygienists. To increase its cultural competence and reduce barriers to care, resources should be devoted to increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the oral health workforce.
  • There should be greater investment in research for oral disease prevention and health service delivery.
  • Regulation and licensure of oral health care personnel should allow the most cost-effective use of the oral health workforce.

Founded in 1937, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry provides a focus for meeting the challenge of improving oral health. It is the nation's largest organization dedicated to the vision of optimum oral health for all. AAPHD membership is open to all individuals concerned with improving the oral health of the public.