April 2011
Volume 32, Issue 3

An All-Inclusive Organization

By C. Yolanda Bonta, DDS, MS, MS

In 2010, the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) celebrated its 20th anniversary, reaffirming its mission to be the leading voice for Hispanic oral health, and to provide Service, Education, Advocacy, and Leadership (SEAL) for the elimination of oral health disparities in the Hispanic community. To achieve this goal, the HDA is reaching out strategically on a number of fronts—from the local neighborhood to the online community to Washington, DC—wherever it can make an impact on oral health.

Fostering an all-inclusive dental community is integral to this mission. The organization’s reach extends well beyond the Hispanic population, and the association works closely with a broad range of individuals and organizations to communicate with Hispanic and non-Hispanic dental professionals alike.

The HDA website, www.hdassoc.org, details the SEAL philosophy, and the site has become the organization’s primary vehicle for disseminating information to Hispanic dental professionals and the broader dental community. The association continues to take significant strides to make www.hdassoc.org a “go to” resource for Hispanic oral health data.

Recent additions include a new search function that accesses all content found on the site. For instance, a quick search of the term “caries” brings back HDA-generated papers, meeting abstracts, student abstract presentations, and research findings relevant to the topic. The site will also include individual pages specific to each HDA chapter. In addition, any page on the site created by the HDA can now be translated into Spanish. (Those interested in submitting information to be considered for inclusion on the organization’s website can contact HDA national headquarters at 217-529-6517.)

An expanded, improved website is just one component of the HDA’s plan for a greater online presence. The association currently has nine chapters, representing Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Diego, New York, and Yakima, Washington, as well as 40 student chapters in 40 dental schools. In 2011, the HDA intends to create “cyberchapters,” which will allow members to become active with the association on a national level, in addition to being part of their respective local dental communities.

To support its long-term goals, HDA has increased its focus on strategic planning. With the assistance of a DentaQuest Foundation grant, the association has brought on a government affairs consultant who has worked closely with the HDA legislative committee and board of directors to design a 5-year strategic plan for the organization. That plan will include expanding the HDA’s advocacy efforts into the nation’s capital where the association’s legislative committee will look to further open the lines of communication with the Hispanic caucuses, the oral health caucus, and key policymakers in Washington.

The HDA’s strategic planning efforts have already led to the formation of the HDA Council of Chapters, a group composed of current and incoming presidents of the association’s nine chapters. The Council meets twice annually, developing and implementing strategic planning initiatives for each chapter’s city and region, as well as generating projects and programs with a more national focus.

One national initiative the HDA has recently launched is Dia del Dentista, or “day of the dentist.” The event, which the organization hopes to expand in 2012, is a daylong celebration of the dental professional’s important role. Conceived by HDA President-Elect Lilia Larin, DDS, Dia del Dentista was held on February 9 in honor of Saint Apollonia, the patron saint of dentistry.

This year, some participating members combined the celebration with Give Kids a Smile Day (February 4). As part of the 2011 festivities, Wrigley generously distributed packs of Orbitz gum throughout the nine HDA chapters, with a caries prevention message enclosed in each individual package.

As a proud participant in this vital program, the HDA has been a recipient of the ADA Gives Kids a Smile award for the past 2 years. Three chapters—Boston, Dallas, and Los Angeles—were acknowledged for their outreach work in their communities.

The populations in these and other HDA chapter cities have their own unique needs, and each chapter has taken its own approach to promoting children’s oral health in their regions. Each group, however, had the same ultimate goal of communicating an important prevention message to patients in a variety of populations, and the effort displayed by all of the HDA chapters participating in the program is indicative of the collaborative, inclusive spirit that will carry the organization into 2011 and beyond.

About the Author

C. Yolanda Bonta, DDS, MS, MS
Founding Member and
Executive Director
Hispanic Dental Association

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