The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) recently submitted public comments to the US Surgeon General through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) regarding the anticipated 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health.
The AGD’s statement pledged support for efforts to revisit oral health in the United States and proposed areas of content for inclusion in the report. The AGD also identified the areas it believes are most pertinent to addressing the current state of oral health, including:
- Oral health across the lifespan: The AGD supports the practices of scheduling a child’s first dental appointment at the eruption of the first tooth, usually around six months of age, or before the first birthday. As Americans age, they also should be encouraged to continue receiving regular oral health checkups, the AGD says. Barriers to quality healthcare for seniors include affordability, transportation, and activation to obtain dental care. Caregivers, friends, and family members are encouraged to assist seniors with an oral health plan. For seniors, the AGD also supports market-based, private insurance solutions for dental benefits intended for the Medicare population.
- Effect of oral health on the community, overall wellbeing, and the economy: The AGD is an advocate for improving oral health literacy and recommends that it be a focus of the 2020 report. Patients should have access to and be able to comprehend basic information and services to make appropriate oral health decisions, the AGD says.
- Special topics including addiction and substance use disorders and how they negatively impact oral health: The AGD supports efforts to decrease the use of opioids for acute pain control. Also, the AGD recommends that collaborators for the 2020 report address the harmful effects of sugar on oral and systemic health.
- Oral health integration and the workforce: The AGD does not support the claim that there is a dentist shortage in the United States, though it does agree that there is a maldistribution of dentists. The AGD opposes the delivery of advanced surgical and irreversible procedures performed by anyone other than a licensed dentist.
- Emerging technologies and promising science to transform oral health: The AGD continues to support the funding of research and collaborative efforts that contribute to improving oral health in the United States. It also supports the continued funding of the NIDCR.
In July of 2018, the US Surgeon General’s office announced plans to commission a new report on oral health. The first report on oral health was published in 2000. Last month, during a webinar, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams for the first time publicly charged the committee of individuals and organizations compiling the report to:
- Describe and evaluate oral health and the interaction between oral health and general health throughout the lifespan
- Consider the advances in science, healthcare, integrative, and social influences to articulate new directions for improving oral health and oral health equity across all communities.