The challenges of resolving the oral health disparities among children and other vulnerable populations requires a well-organized community safety net, along with a sincere commitment to prioritize the elimination of this common, but preventable, dental disease. Adequate funding for basic health needs, while incorporating oral health care into a comprehensive primary care model in our neighborhoods provides the best chance for a successful outcome. In order to build better communities for our children, improvement in the access and delivery of dental care must be part of the equation.

Key Take Away Points

  • Increasing Medicaid funding with competitive reimbursement rate for treatment is critical for elevating the level of oral health care for children
  • Including dental care services into a comprehensive primary health care system is important for accessibility and sustainability
  • Coordinating a vertically stacked oral health care model in the community increases the likelihood for a successful outcome
  • Achieving good oral health is not an added bonus, but rather, an important link to improving the general health and well-being of children

Author Biography

Dr. Casamassimo received his dental degree from Georgetown University in 1974 and a Master of Science and Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from the University of Iowa in 1976. He has taught at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry (1976-78) and the University of Colorado School of Dentistry (1978-88). He is former Editor-in-Chief of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and its journal, Pediatric Dentistry, and also a past-president of AAPD. Dr. Casamassimo is past-president of the Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped and past editor of the Journal of Dentistry for the Handicapped and the Journal of Dentistry for Children. He has authored over 300 publications including three books, 31 text chapters and seven monographs in the areas of pediatric dentistry, care of children with special health care needs, and dental education. He is a member of a number of professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Dental Education Association and is a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor fraternity, a fellow in AAPD, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He is currently President of the Ohio Dental Association. Dr. Casamassimo is currently Director of the AAPD Oral Health Policy Research Center. He has received numerous professional, humanitarian and teaching awards in his career. He is board-certified in pediatric dentistry and practices at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio, where he is a past-President of the medical staff.

Catherine Flaitz, D.D.S., M.S., is distinguished teaching professor in the Departments of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences and of Pediatric Dentistry at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston (UTSD). She is also faculty in the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, UT School of Medicine, and holds an adjunct appointment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Head and Neck Oncology. Previously, she served as dean (2002-2009), chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences (2002) and director of the surgical oral pathology laboratory service (1992-2004). Dr. Flaitz is dual-specialized in both pediatric dentistry and oral & maxillofacial pathology with board certification. Within the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, she has been appointed to the Board of Trustees, Academic at Large (2012-2015) and is a member of the Council of Clinical Affairs. Formerly, she served on the Frew Advisory Committee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to review strategic initiatives to address innovative approaches to health care for Medicaid recipients. Her academic accomplishments include serving on multiple editorial boards in dentistry and medicine and the publication of over 290 articles, 32 chapters/monographs and 2 books/atlases on the diagnosis and management of oral diseases in children and adults. In recognition of her commitment to dental education, she has received numerous professional and teaching awards in her career.