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Groundbreaking Oral Health Curriculum Endorsed by American Dental Association

Posted on Wednesday, October 9, 2013

LEESBURG, Va., Oct. 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Dental Association (ADA) announced its official endorsement of "Smiles for Life," the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine's national online oral health curriculum. Funded by the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, the Smiles for Life curriculum was first released in 2005 and is now available in an interactive online 3rd edition. Smiles for Life is the nation's most comprehensive and widely used oral health curriculum specifically designed by and for primary medical care clinicians.

The endorsement came at the Interprofessional Initiative's "2012 Symposium on Oral Health and Primary Care," held in Leesburg, Va., October 7-9, and marks great progress toward ensuring all people at risk of dental disease get the benefit of preventive services that experts know can work.

"Oral health is a key component of overall health. We are pleased to provide an opportunity for medical clinicians to learn to promote oral health as an integral part of primary medical care," said Alan Douglass, M.D., Founding Editor of Smiles for Life.

"With physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other members of the primary care team joining the fight for oral health, we have a real chance to eradicate the silent epidemic of dental disease," said Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, executive director of the ADA. "The dental profession looks favorably on the engagement of primary care clinicians who have contact with patients of all ages since they can greatly impact dental disease firsthand."

The ADA recognizes and commends the work of the Interprofessional Initiative for investing in the development of high quality tools like Smiles for Life and in opportunities for clinicians to learn about and prioritize oral health. This includes learning how to partner effectively with each other. The work aligns with the ADA's strategic plan to collaborate across the spectrum of stakeholders outside of dentistry to improve public health outcomes.

The Interprofessional Initiative's goal is to improve access to oral health care and prevention for children, adults and families who are at high risk. It brings together diverse stakeholders in the field of primary care clinician education and practice to create oral health solutions. The Interprofessional Initiative is funded by the DentaQuest Foundation, The Washington Dental Service Foundation and the Connecticut Health Foundation.

"The ADA endorsement of the Smiles for Life curriculum is an important sign of support from the dental profession," said Ralph Fuccillo, president of the DentaQuest Foundation. "We are thrilled to have the ADA welcome new partners in prevention. We appreciate their recognition of the work of the Interprofessional Initiative and its partners to include oral health in the education and training of all primary care clinicians. The Interprofessional Initiative is enacting real systems change to permanently alter the way that health professionals are educated about oral health; dental profession support is key to our success."

The 2012 Symposium on Oral Health and Primary Care, sponsored by the Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, is an opportunity for funders and representatives from dentistry, family medicine, pediatrics, nursing, physician assistant and pharmacy professions to come together to celebrate progress made and determine the most effective next steps to integrate oral health into primary care education and practice. The 2012 Symposium is the fifth in a series of these events.

"We are seeing great progress as groups partner through the Interprofessional Initiative to prevent dental disease," said Laura Smith, President and CEO of the Washington Dental Service Foundation. "In Washington State, we're excited by the possibility that primary care medical providers will be ready to work in partnership with dentists when they complete their education and start practicing. All patients will benefit from dentists and primary care medical clinicians sharing responsibility for preventing oral disease."

"An endorsement of the Smiles for Life curriculum from the ADA speaks volumes about the importance of educating the entire medical community about oral health," said Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. "We are thrilled to support the work of such an important initiative as we work together to end dental disease."

"The Interprofessional Initiative is forging common ground in the arena of Medical and Dental Collaboration, one of the six priority areas of the US National Oral Health Alliance. This work is a concrete expression of what the Alliance hopes to make possible in all six of its priority areas," said Dr. Caswell Evans, Chair of the Alliance Founding Board.

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