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Home > Activities > Oral Health Conference
2013 Oral Health Conference
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8th Annual New England Rural Oral Health Conference Hits a Nerve

This year’s conference on September 10 in Westford, MA brought together more than 120 participants, eager to hear about the impact on rural oral health in today’s changing health care climate. As Dr. Bob Russell implied in his challenging keynote speech, we can’t continue to go along as we’ve always done. “Dental must become part of the national health transformation and action plan….and must be included in ALL aspects of the Affordable Care Act.” Dr. Russell heads the highly successful Iowa I-Smile program.

In his talk, Dr. Russell outlined many obstacles now in the way of achieving oral health access- all well known to the audience. But despite roadblocks such as resistance to new workforce models, loopholes in the ACA that leave gaps in dental coverage, decrease in states and federal public program spending, and a host of other challenges, he remains optimistic that we are moving in the right direction. Regardless of what happens with the ACA, there is forward momentum. What needs to happen? He says, “Changes within licensure, flexible deployment, greater use of all available workforce, and a payment systems that recognizes the entire oral health team including primary care and non-traditional providers must become part of the mix to improve rural oral health access.”

Laurie Norris, JD, now a Senior Policy Advisor for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, reviewed ways in which CMS and the states are now moving forward together. She is known widely for her efforts in calling national attention to the link between untreated dental caries and serious illness and death. Responding to Dr. Norris, a panel of oral health directors from the New England states described what is happening in their states.

As in years past, a large contingent of dental hygiene students from Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Mt. Ida College, and Tunxis Community College (CT) attended the conference along with faculty members.

Afternoon sessions focused on a range of topics: recruitment of oral health professionals, successful school oral health programs, water fluoridation campaigns, and the “culture of poverty,” among others.

Speaker Presentations

  • Russell: Rural Oral Health in a Changing Health Care Environment

  • Norris: CMS and States Moving Forward together on Oral Health

  • Bennett: The Evolution of a School Dental Program

  • Burnham: Encouraging Providers to Practice Where They're Needed Most

  • Doherty: Rural Health Roundtable finance

  • Silverman et al: A NE Community Water Fluoridation Campaign

  • Gradie: Motivational Interviewing Modified for PDF

  • Milkovic: Oral Health in Non-Dental Settings: Trusted Persons

  • Miller: Strategies for Addressing the Role of Culture in Access Issues

  • Pagliuca: DentaQuest Integration Initiatives

  • Pagliuca: Dentist Recruitment

  • Safford: VT State Dental Society - Recruitment

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