New dentists are ideal advocates for public health, offering advice at the local level on issues such as water fluoridation and caries prevention.
But involvement shouldn’t have to start and end there.
Here are five ways new dentists can continue to incorporate and advocate for public health and access to care in their practices and communities.
1. While 2020 suspended many humanitarian organization’s mission trips, those same organizations are planning to ramp up their efforts for later in 2021 and beyond. To learn more about international dental volunteering opportunities, check out internationalvolunteer.ADA.org .
2. Mission of Mercy events are scheduled around the county, including the MOM ‘n’ PA charitable mission, set for Sept. 24-25 at Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry in Philadelphia. MOMS are large-scale professional dental clinics that provide care to any patient at no cost to them, with the goal ofserving the underserved and uninsured — those who would otherwise go without care. Contact your state dental society to see if there are upcoming MOMs in your area, and, if not, organize one.
3. Even during the pandemic,dental schools and practices continued holding Give Kids A Smile events throughout the country. While traditionally held in February, during National Children’s Dental Health Month, GKAS events can held any time of the year, with months of planning throughout the year to help children in need. Learn more at ADA.org/GKAS . A free ADA webinar offers tips on how to incorporate oral health care for children from birth to age 5 at GKAS events.
4. Legislative advocacy is an avenue especially ripe fornew dentist participation. In the Dec. 19, 2019 episode of the ADA’s Beyond the Mouth podcast , ADA lobbyists talk about how to advocate for public health and dentistry.
5. The ADA’s Community Dental Health Coordinator program is a way for any member ofthe dental team to provide community-based prevention, care coordination and patient navigation to connect people who typically do not receive care from a dentist in underserved rural, urban and Native American communities. Forty-seven states have either a CDHC school program, a graduate of the program or a student in the program. Learn more at ADA.org/cdhc .