A long-awaited report on oral health in America recently published by the National Institutes of Health includes contributions and highlights research from several experts at Eastman Institute for Oral Health, part of the University of Rochester.
Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges, is a sequel to the pivotal publication 2000 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, is intended to provide a road map on how to improve the national’s oral health, and draws primarily on information from public research and evidence-based practices.
The current report, which includes invited contributions from EIOH Director Eli Eliav, D.M.D., Ph.D., and Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski, D.M.D., M.P.H., director of EIOH Clinical and Translational Research Core, provides the most comprehensive assessment of oral health of the U.S. population.
“This is a very significant report,” said NIH Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. “It is the most comprehensive assessment of oral health currently available in the United States and it shows, unequivocally, that oral health plays a central role in overall health. Yet millions of Americans still do not have access to routine and preventative oral care.”
“We’re pleased the meaningful research we’ve conducted at EIOH is helping us all make better informed decisions based on scientific evidence to improve oral and general health,” said Dr. Eliav, a widely published expert in orofacial pain, neuropathic pain, and oral medicine. “But we must continue working closely together to remove barriers that prevent or impede access for all Americans.”
Focusing on innovations in health care delivery, the report highlights Eastman Institute for Oral Health’s expertise in Teledentistry in the Emerging Science and Promising Technologies to Transform Oral Health section.
Eastman Institute’s partnership with the Finger Lakes Migrant Health Care Project and how implementing Teledentistry dramatically improved compliance is called out as a successful example and highlighted in the report.
The report also addresses group disparities around oral health, identified 20 years ago, and how they have not been adequately addressed. Greater efforts are needed to tackle both the social and commercial determinants that create these inequities and the systemic biases that perpetuate them.
“This is an in-depth review of the scientific knowledge surrounding oral health that has accumulated over the last two decades,” said Rena D’Souza, D.D.S, Ph.D., director of NIDCR, which oversaw and funded the project’s three-year research program. “It provides an important window into how many societal factors intersect to create advantages and disadvantages with respect to oral health, and critically, overall health.”
“Healthcare professionals working together to provide integrated oral, medical, and behavioral health care in schools, community health centers, nursing homes, medical care settings and dental clinics is one of the many recommendations made in the report,” said Dr. Kopycka-Kedzierawski, whose contributions to the report were included in the chapters related to emerging technologies, Teledentistry and Early Childhood Caries. “Some of the priorities are developing a more diverse oral healthcare workforce, addressing the rising cost of dental education, expanding insurance coverage and improving the overall affordability of care.”
EIOH Director Emeritus Cyril Meyerowitz, D.D.S., M.S., served as a reviewer for the 800-page report. “The process to produce an important document like this requires the active involvement of a lot of content experts and reviewers,” he said, “and the leadership of this effort by Drs. Judith Albino and Bruce Dye was a tour de force to pull it off at such a high level.”
In addition to Drs. Eliav and Kopycka-Kedzierawski, EIOH faculty and scientists cited in the report include Drs. Hans Malmstrom, Jack Caton, Linda Rasubala, Jin Xiao, Ronald Billings, T.W. Clarkson, Fawad Javed, Walter Psoter, Hiroko Iida and the late Robert Berkowitz.
The overall message voiced by the report is that while some progress has been made in improving oral health of Americans, there is still more to be done, and the authors make several recommendations accordingly.
To view or download the report, please visit the NIDCR website at www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealthinamerica.